By WHITNEY BURDETTE ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org
GAULEY BRIDGE — It's not easy to take over a business during the Great Recession.
Just ask Vincent Dumrongkietiman. He and his wife, Natalie, took over ownership of Evan Scent Candles, located in the Fayette County town of Gauley Bridge in 2010. Evan Scent was first established in the mid-1990s by sisters Brandy and Sherry Evans. They eventually sold the business, but the new owner strayed from the product line customers came to expect. That's when Vincent and Natalie stepped in.
"Basically, we're recovering the customers the original owners had," Vincent said.
But that hasn't been easy.
"I'm really in a pinch because Natalie and I didn't start from the ground up," he said. "We took over with what we had to work with and went with it."
Vincent is friends with Brandy and Sherry's younger brother, Toby, so he was already familiar with the shop when he and his wife took over. Despite that, Vincent said Brandy and Sherry gave him a lot of information to help him run the business.
"What we did when we came in as new owners is we got with Brandy and Sherry, the original owners, and they gave us every manufacturer they use — everything from where they got their Sharpies," he said. "They had everything down to a science."
Armed with that information, Vincent and Natalie were able to manufacture products using the original vendors — something he says pleases customers.
"That's one of the things we're very proud of here," he said. "We manufacture all of our products to the original specifications. We use all original vendors for the materials, for the wax, for the scents, for the bottles and sprays. The only thing we vary from is miscellaneous little stuff that isn't key to the core of our product. All the things that are key to our product are original."
In addition to candles, Evan Scent manufactures tarts, sprays and potpourri.
Now that the company has returned to its core, Vincent said his customer base and sales continue to increase.
"Sales have picked up, and we've had a significant increase," Vincent said. "We took over in 2010. Sales in 2011 were better than 2010 and we're predicting that 2012 will be significantly better than 2011 and 2010. Sales for the company have picked up a lot. I think it's a good thing for the region."
Although Evan Scent Candles is primarily a wholesale business, it does rely some on retail. Customers can visit the shop on U.S Route 60 in Gauley Bridge or visit the website to place orders. Vincent said the store ships all over.
Although Gauley Bridge doesn't attract many shoppers and doesn't have a big economic base, Vincent said the residents have been key to helping re-establish the business.
Now that he and Natalie have taken over and are seeing an uptick in sales and customers, Vincent said he sees nothing but positive things in Evan Scent's future.
"The old customers we've been able to work with again have been truly ecstatic about our product," he said. "They're very happy to have the original product that they've gotten used to for 10, 15 years. We see great things in the future for Evan Scent."