When the derecho hit the Dysart area in July 2011, Emmy Lou Candles and Polar Blair's Den were greatly impacted by the storm. Carol Whipple and her son Blair share a shop, located four and a half miles south of Dysart on Highway 21, in which they sell their products. The damage to their property was so extensive that they were closed for three months following the storm.
"We had to close because of the trees. The whole front yard was covered with trees. We lost two buildings and it just took us a long time to get it cleaned up," Carol said.
The shop where the product is sold was an old garage that was stripped down and remodeled in 2010. After the storm, it was still in good condition, although everything around it was not. "Everything around the shop went. The house was pitiful, everything was," said Ryan Whipple, Carol's other son who remodeled the shop and is referred to as the architect, groundskeeper, maintenance man and consultant, in addition to the product research and development department for the businesses.
Ryan, Carol and Blair Whipple pose in front of their family business on Hwy. 21 south of Dysart.
"It took us a long time after that to get our clientele back," Blair said. It was a Black Friday weekend promotion that finally kicked the business off again, but one year later, the Whipples reported being officially back in business after the storm.
In the meantime, the Whipples built a new factory building, which is divided into two rooms by a double insulated wall. Each room has separate heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Carol uses half of the factory building to make candles, soaps and work on her stitching for Emmy Lou Candles. Blair uses the other half of the building to make his chocolate for Polar Blair's Den.
Carol started Emmy Lou Candles in 2008. The business is named after their cat and each candle has a paw print imprinted into the candle. The soy candles are available in over 200 scents, including Chanel Number 5, Victoria's Secret love spell, 7 Up, lilac, and many others. Unscented candles are also available. The Whipples claim that their candles are the best in the market and that the scent lasts the life of the candle.
"We try to get the longest burn out of them with the best scent and no soot," Ryan said.
Carol can make the candles in a variety of colors and can pour the candles into any container that the customer wishes. The jars that they use are thoroughly tested to ensure the safety of the customer.
Candles are just the beginning of the Emmy Lou product line. Carol also makes organic blend lotions, soaps, lip balms, body butter, and bath salts. Another big seller are the fire starters, which are cupcake liners with a pinecone and a wick. They can start a fire with no lighter fluid required. She also makes bath poof soap, votives, candle cards for candle warmers, votive roses and also does stitching. All items can also be combined into gift baskets.
Carol also creates Waxy Bears, which are one of a kind 6" bears that can be custom created. They are dipped in wax in your choice of fragrance. Carol also makes Forever Flowers, which are flower bouquets dipped in scented wax.
Christmas time is a busy time for Emmy Lou Candles as she also makes Christmas ornaments and stockings. Both Carol and Blair offer delivery for their products throughout the year and often make deliveries on holidays such as Valentine's Day.
Polar Blair's Den began in 2010 and was Blair's idea that grew out of his mom's business. He started making paw print chocolates to help promote Emmy Lou Candles and when the sales took off, he began to expand his own business.
Today, Blair makes Polar O's, which are chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate covered pretzels, nuts and caramel corn mixes. He also makes Polar Pops, which are created in a variety of shapes including Transformers, Scooby Doo, Star Wars, Spiderman, Pac Man, a variety of animals, and pink castles. He often creates pops for birthday parties, weddings, and has created candy for the Blue Hat ladies and the D.D.C. Each product comes with a factoid, which stems back to his website, Polar Blair's Den, which offers facts, figures, and Hollywood trivia.
Blair's newest business venture is his Holly Pops product. "It's candy that comes with real autographed card of Hollywood Celebrities. Currently, I have actresses on the product line but I'll be getting actors and musicians. My latest signer is Francine York and I have six different styles of Holly Pops with her," Blair said. Each Holly Pop includes an autographed card by the celebrity. Francine York also sells the Holly Pops at her autograph shows.
Polar Blair's Den also carries a line of homemade dog treats, called Copper Cookie dog treats, and cat treats, called Wee treats. "I would go to the stores and I would find out they were making these dog treats with all kinds of chemicals and I thought, 'I don't want my dog eating that, I'd like him to have something a little bit healthier'," Blair said. So he created his own line of pet treats with all real ingredients and no preservatives.
The family business does not stop there. Recently, Ryan began to design and build benches, which are called Bestt Benches. Originally, he built benches for their own use, but customers started asking if they were for sale. The Bestt Benches have high backs, elongated seats, and are built at an angle so that they don't tip. They are available in 5' to 8' sizes, but can be custom built. This adds to the extensive product line offered by the Whipple family.
"We're trying to expand our products a bit," Ryan said. "We try to give people the best product we can make for an affordable price," added Blair.
The Whipple family is back in business following a hard year due to the weather last year. They have added to their product line, remodeled their premises, and are continuing to offer a country shop with a laid back shopping experience.