Vandergrift resident brings creativity to new candle and craft shop


Stuck at home for a long time during the pandemic, Shannon Gourley learned the craft of candle making.

“It gave me something to focus on,” said Gourley, a Vandergrift resident and mother of four.

Now she has turned this creative achievement into a business, selling candles and promoting other crafts in downtown Vandergrift.

Their new store, Honey & Heart Candle and Craft Co., will open with a grand opening on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will offer free refreshments and activities.

“I’ve never owned my own business, but I wanted to get involved to help revitalize this city. A vibrant business district is important,” said Gourley, 37.

The storefront at 151 Grant Ave. was previously Sander’s Pharmacy. Gourley signed a one-year lease for the premises with her husband Tim.

“We just love the old woodwork and the ceiling,” Gourley said.

Gourley’s transition to entrepreneurship was gradual. During lockdown, as her passion for making candles grew, she made so many that she started selling them online. She later also sold them at Full Circle Furniture & Gifts in Vandergrift.

“They kept selling out,” Gourley said, as did their inventory at the Vandergrift Arts Festival. This success convinced her that “I’m smart and the candles work for me.”

Before opening the shop, Gourley held candle-making workshops, which became a huge success. Beginning in April, customers can walk into the store without an appointment and make their own scented candle for $15.

Gourley said she wants customers to feel “at home” when they visit Honey & Heart.

“My vision is to create a collaborative place for the community to gather,” she said. “A place where they hang out, take a break and feel like it’s not a business.”

Gourley grew up in Bellevue and graduated from Northgate High School. Seven years ago she moved from Cranberry to Vandergrift, her husband’s hometown. Her four children are homeschooled.

Gourley volunteers for several organizations in the area, including being a volunteer coordinator for YosYos, a crochet and knitting group that meets at the Vandergrift Public Library.

At Honey & Heart, the candles are sold in three sizes, priced from $13 to $18, and have a burn time of up to 60 hours. Each month, Gourley makes about 50 hand-poured soy candles in nearly 30 scents.

Popular scents include Winter in Vandergrift (blended with Wassail scent), Dragon’s Blood, Hallmark Boyfriend, Fruit Loops, Apples and Maple Bourbon, Blackberry and Saffron, and Library, a tribute to the Vandergrift Public Library featuring smoke, suede and fireplace scents.

In addition to candles, items for sale include children’s art supplies, organic stuffed animals and babydolls, bath bombs, canvas and acrylic and watercolor paints, crystals and unique craft kits.

A lounge area in front of the store offers chairs, a children’s table, jigsaw puzzles and free coffee. A large table in the center of the store will be available for anyone who wants to craft.

The former drugstore’s interior, with numerous built-ins, has proven ideal for a craft shop, Gourley said.

Gourley plans to host seasonal workshops for children and adults throughout the year.

A free Easter Bunny community event is planned for April 9th. Customers are invited to take their own photos and decorate a sugar cookie.

Every Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to a BYOB “Knitting Nights” featuring knitting and crocheting. A large selection of high-quality and cheaper yarns is in stock.

Vandergrift Councilwoman Marilee Kessler said another new store opening in the borough’s historic district is great news.

“It’s nice to see a trend of revitalizing main streets in small towns taking place here,” Kessler said. “I think Honey & Heart is a perfect use that can be enjoyed by customers of all ages.”

Joyce Hanz is a contributor to the Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725, [email protected], or via Twitter .


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