Born and raised in Dundalk, Laurie Williams has always had a soft spot for the area. “It’s a unique little town. Everybody knows everybody.” It’s that small-town charm that’s brought Laurie’s Candles and Crafts to Dundalk. It didn’t take long for Laurie to become known as the candle lady. What started as a hobby turned into gifts for her friends and then custom orders, before she knew it, she was putting ads in the Baltimore Sun for her home business—a space she was quickly outgrowing.
In 2017 Laurie decided to take the plunge and do a pop-up shop under Dundalk Renaissance’s business incubator program. Her shop was so successful that she was confident enough to set up shop in Edgemere, delivering her signature tarts and candles to clients in Dundalk who couldn’t get over to her new location.
When her lease ended in Edgemere, Laurie thought about the next steps for her shop. She heard about space on North Dundalk Avenue from a customer and was then convinced to look at the shop by the manager of Pinland Bowling Lanes. The space was vacant for about 6 years, but it was just right for Laurie’s Candles and Crafts. It as big enough to hold her country crafts for the season, but small enough that she didn’t need to court additional vendors to sell their products in her store. It didn’t hurt that she and Tammy Tricario hit it off right away. “She was like a sister from another mother. It was like meeting a long-lost friend. We just connected.”
Laurie occasionally does make and take crafts for groups out of Pinland and frequently decorates Pinland’s window adjacent to her shop according to the seasons. Laurie has partnered with Tammy to coordinate and cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the needy of Dundalk. The tradition started with the first manager of Pinland to give back to the community. Last year they fed 161 people.
Laurie’s Candles and Crafts has been ready for the holidays for a couple of weeks. It takes Laurie about 4 months to plan, prepare and craft the items in her store. When asked how the ideas for the décor come to her she shrugs. “They just come out of thin air,” but Laurie is one to take chances on an idea so the fear that something might not work out like she planned doesn’t bother her. “If it doesn’t turn out right, I throw it away or fix it. I try to see what happens. You don’t know if you can do something until you try—my mother taught me that.”
Laurie frequently goes to Pennsylvania to buy wood for her projects. Several of her centerpieces are made with re-purposed barn doors. She has two gorgeous shutters from an 1800’s farmhouse for sale in her shop that she uses as a display for her holiday décor. “I went to an auction where everything in the house was for sale. I asked the guy if I could have the shutters from the wall. He said if you can take them off you can. I told my husband to get his tools out of the truck.”
When she’s not at her store or working on her latest creations, Laurie works as a crossing guard for the local police department. You can see Laurie at her post every day, regardless of the weather. “The children I crossed 24 years ago I am now crossing their children.” She’s been helping kids get safely to and from school 24 years in January, a job she relishes in whenever you ask her about her kids.
Laurie’s Candles and Crafts is open Tuesday-Friday 11 am-6 pm and Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm.
Follow #MadeinDundalk on Facebook and Instagram Tuesday, November 26 for an inside look at Laurie’s Candles and Crafts. If you’re interested in trying out a brick and mortar store, but aren’t ready for a long term commitment contact Nick Staigerwald (Nick@DundalkUSA.org) to learn more about our pop up shop space in the Forge. Small business resources are also available here.
Don’t forget to support Laurie’s Candles and other shops in the Historic Dundalk Town Center on Small Business Saturday (November 30).