When Alexis “Lex” Dascoli started trying to get her homemade candles in stores, she was especially hoping to see her products in the Paper Store in Northborough that she frequents.
She can consider this lifelong dream achieved, plus some.
Last week, she dropped off dozens of candles at a warehouse in Leominster. And within two weeks — just in time for holiday shopping — Vibes Candles, created and tested in Dascoli’s Marlborough home, will head to Paper Store locations throughout the Northeast, including six in Massachusetts.
The three most popular candles from her signature collection will be offered in an 8-ounce size: clear quartz, which has a scent of vanilla, citrus and sandalwood; rose quartz, which will fill a room with the smell of pink peonies and cedar; and amethyst quartz, with an aroma of lavender and ylang ylang, a tropical plant with bright yellow star-shaped flowers.
Each handmade candle is set with a wooden wick that crackles merrily as it burns, and each is named for the crystals that Dascoli carefully places into every product, which create a colorful pool of crystals and wax as the candle burns.
“I think it’s so important to shop small, not only because it helps our community, but you’re also getting a better product,” Dascoli said. “I create every product with my own two hands, and I have my hands on every single aspect of the business.”
It still matters: Even in the Digital Age, local merchants brace for Black Friday shoppers
Vibes by Lex also sells reed diffusers, scented spritzes and wax melters, among other products, which can still be bought online. The three varieties of candle will be available in the Bay State in Paper Store locations in Beverly, Leominster, Braintree, Reading, Bellingham and Saugus.
Dascoli hopes that someday she’ll be successful enough to hand off some day-to-day work to employees, and maybe even have a storefront of her own, but she’s committed to keeping her operation small. She wants to make sure she has time to interact with customers online, via social media and email.
Hard work is ‘paying off’: Marlborough entrepreneur is winning awards for candle making
For the holidays, and in general, local businesses want to make sure every customer has a good shopping experience, she said.
“Small businesses care so much about you and what you think of the product,” Dascoli said. “It’s kind of like a community where we actually really care about you, and we care about every single order that comes in.”
Shopping at local shops that stock the work of many artists is a way to help the whole community, according to Ginger McEachern, co-owner of Five Crows Gallery & Handcrafted Gifts, a gift shop and gallery in dowtown Natick.
“You’re supporting a lot of people by shopping local — neighbors, friends,” she said. “Everything is unique, one of a kind — who wouldn’t want something that’s one of a kind?”
Whether you’re in the market for candles, coffee or even some locally crafted greeting cards, here are some shopping ideas in MetroWest and Greater Milford:
Location: 41 Main St. (Route 27), Natick
Offerings: Items from more than 100 creators — candles, soap, art and jewelry of all shapes and sizes. The shop is celebrating 20 years in business, with plans for an anniversary celebration with giveaways and refreshments on Dec. 8.
Location: 63 Main St. (Route 62), Hudson
Offerings: Handcrafted gifts, jewelry and “whimsy,” colorful items like a Dr. Seuss book birdhouse, broaches and felted items. For those who want to give the gift of experiences, the shop also hosts parties and gatherings for making necklaces, earrings or painted works; it also offers summer classes at “Camp Bling” for young makers ages 6-13.
Location: 18 Walden St., Concord
Offerings: Fine and contemporary art, both functional and decorative pieces — everything from side tables to Christmas ornaments, pillows to tea strainers. The shop has been in Concord’s historic center since 2011.
Location: 210 Franklin Village Drive, Franklin
Offerings: Classic New England decorations, from Simone Pierce to hometown merchandise — a Christmas in Franklin candle, for example — this shop as a little bit of everything. Shipping is free for patrons who spend more than $100.
Elsie Kaye glassworks
Location: 3 Union St., Westborough
Offerings: Glassworks and more. It has classes for students of all ages in glass bead making. In addition to work from the owner, who makes a line of glass bead-adorned stainless steel kitchenware like jam spreaders and salad serving sets, the shop is full, from top to bottom, with work from other artisans.
During the holidays in New England, a good cup of coffee or a stiff drink always hits the spot. Whether the people on your list are hard to shop for or trying to accumulate less stuff, here are some local spots for coffee, wine and beer.
Saxonville Mills Café & Roastery
Location: 2 Central St., Framingham
Offerings: Coffee from the Andean region of South America, sourced from small-scale growers located high in the mountains; each cup, whether it be brewed from ground beans or in Keurig K-cup coffee pods (which the roastery also offers), has a unique flavor. The owners plan to open a second location in downtown Framingham.
Sudbury Coffee Works
Location: 15 Union Ave., Sudbury
Offerings: Soups and sandwiches, including a spin on a harvest sandwich — Boar’s Head honey turkey, provolone cheese, cranberry mayo, slivered almonds and lettuce and tomato on a pretzel sub roll. It also sells full city-roasted and French-roasted beans that produce a smooth, rich cup of joe.
Blooming Hearts Roastery & Café
Location: 206 East Main St. (Route 16), Milford
Offerings: The owners hoped to create a warm and welcoming spot for their community. Beans are locally roasted, sourced from farms throughout the world. They even offer decaf beans, which are a medium roast.
Wine & Liquor
Location: 860 West Central St., Franklin
Offerings: Although this local distillery had a bit of a rocky start — its scheduled opening came just a day after the governor’s order to close restaurants in 2020 — the craft distillery began by offering rum, whiskey, vodka and gin. Its tart BOG vodka — infused with locally grown cranberries — is a great addition to a mule and its BHUT vodka infused with locally grown ghost peppers will make even the most capsaicin-loving person reach for the milk. GlenPharmer also just launched a bourbon whiskey that’s been aging for two years; on site, there’s a full tasting room and restaurant featuring GlenPharmer mixed cocktails as well as food to complement their offerings, like chicken and waffles served with BHUT-spiced butter.
Robust forecast: Retailers Association of Massachusetts predicts 10% sales gain this holiday season
La Cantina Winery
Location: 357 Union St., Franklin
Offerings: Vintages made with traditional Italian winemaking techniques; contemporary twist wines like the Yay Rosé, a sparkling pink wine “perfect for any occasion” according to the company’s website. Also, classics like a chardonnay aged in stainless steel, a pinot noir that has scored big at an International Wine Challenge and the Working Man’s Red, which was aged five months in a bourbon barrel sourced from Working Man Distillery in North Attleborough.
Mullahy’s Cheese Shop
Location: 162 Main St. (Route 62), Hudson
Offerings: A variety of cheeses, classes, a cheese-of-the-month club as well as expansive cheese boards fit for any gathering, as well as wine. Owner Katie Quinn is a certified cheese professional (only a few hundred exist nationwide), giving her the type of cheese expertise that a sommelier could claim with wine.
The Concord Cheese Shop
Location: 29 Walden St., Concord
Offerings: Perhaps made famous by a parade put on before the pandemic for the arrival of a special cheese, this local shop is now back to offering on-site samplings for shoppers. Staff can provide expertise on cheese and wine pairings.