The owners of a 13-year-old candle company and retail store in Lake Zurich have been burned by the recession.
Heaventree Candle Co. at 330 E. Route 22, a popular outlet for holiday gifts, recently closed.
"We closed because of lack of business. We couldn't service our debt. It's unfortunate," said Dennis Clarkson, who owned the business with wife Franny and Richard Forier.
The company, known for its hand-poured candles and unique molds, suffered when the stores it sold candles to closed. Home Depot Expo and Z Gallery were major accounts for the Lake County candle maker, which also had accounts with Stein Mart, Neiman Marcus, Sak's Fifth Avenue and Jo-Ann's.
"A number of stores closed. It's tough," Clarkson said from his Evanston home.
He added that the company's number one customer, A.C. Moore on the East Coast, also closed several of stores, which resulted in fewer sales.
The Clarksons started their business in Wheeling during summer 1997. They moved their manufacturing facility to Lake Zurich about two years ago, where they employed about 30 people.
The business was making between 2,500 and 3,000 candles a day. Between 5,000 and 6,000 were produced during peak periods. "We did 50 to 60 percent of our business in the third and fourth quarters," said Clarkson, 60.
He said he thought the company could survive the recession when he obtained an SBA loan in 2009. "But then the bottom dropped out in 2010," Clarkson said.
"We put our house up as collateral. When your home is involved it's a very scary thing," Clarkson said.
The entrepreneurs sold the Heaventree name and customer list to Hanna's Candles in Arkansas.
The owners say they miss the business and making candles for the Christmas season. When they took their website down, the couple said they received many calls from concerned customers. "It's unfortunate," Clarkson said.
The couple, who once owned a restaurant on Beaver Island in Michigan, are considering opening a deli in Evanston.