JAMES CITY-Sebastian Brock, owner of Coral Bay Candle • Body • Soul, a handcrafted candle and specialty shop that was located at 7840 Ware Neck Rd. in Gloucester, decided to close up shop after a fire caused $26,000 in damage on January 30 of this year.
The devastating experience didn’t hinder the entrepreneur’s destiny for a longtime career in retail. He recently decided to merge Savannah’s, an online ladies’ apparel shop he had been running for three years, with Coral Bay Candle • Body • Soul as a storefront in Williamsburg Premium Outlets.
“Not to say it wasn’t catastrophic after the fire, but it was kind of a blessing in disguise,” said Brock. “We wanted to eventually move anyway and transition to a bigger company, so it kind of worked out after all.”
Brock knew who to reach out to regarding his vision of a new storefront.
“I knew the outlet mall’s general manager, Sam Thatcher, because I had worked at Sunglass Hut for four years and the last two were at the outlet mall,” said Brock. After touring the mall’s available spaces, Brock signed a lease in March and Savannah’s opened for business on April 29. Brock’s shop is located next to Banana Republic, where Williamsburg Mattress Emporium was previously located.
“We took over the space April 1, and turned the entire store within twenty nine days,” said Brock. “We put thirteen gallons of paint on the walls and completely transformed the space from what it looked like previously.”
Offering 3,000 square-feet of space, the new location is double the size of his previous shop in Gloucester.
In addition to handmade candles, bath bombs, reed diffusers, shower steamers, wax melts, and sugar scrubs, Savannah’s also sells women’s apparel, including jeans, dresses, shirts, pants, accessories, shoes, hats, and more. Brock describes the style as southern bohemian. While current sizes offered are small to extra-large, the owner expects to offer more inclusive sizes ranging from extra small to 3X soon.
“I’ve had five or six customers ask if we’re a sister company to Francesca’s,” said Brock. “Being independently owned, I find that amazing that people are already comparing us to a large, national company that’s publicly traded. I think it really shows how much my staff and I have accomplished since signing the lease.”
Brock is also offering a “Pour + Sip” night twice a month at the storefront. Guests will learn the art of candle making while sipping wine and snacking on hors d’oeuvres in a lighthearted environment.
“We started the event while we were in Gloucester because there weren’t a lot of date-night events in the area,” said Brock.
The event became popular and morphed into guests celebrating their birthdays and other special events at the Pour + Sip night.
“We usually have charcuterie boards filled with various meats and cheeses, vegetable trays, dips, and fruit trays,” said Brock.
The event costs $55 per person and includes two glasses of wine, snacks, and two candles.
“It’s a really fun event because most people don’t know how to make a candle or how easy it is to create,” said Brock. “Guests don’t have to wait a few days to come and pick up the candles. They actually get to take them home that day.”
Savannah’s will hold its first Pour + Sip night from 7pm to 8:30pm on Friday, May 27.
Brock said his next vision is to open a men’s-only clothing shop.
“That’s my goal for next year,” said Brock. “I’m the type of person who needs to stay busy. Sure, sometimes I complain about being occupied all of the time and not having a life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being busy.”
Savannah’s is located at 5707-5 Richmond Road in James City County. Hours of operation are 11am to 7pm Monday through Thursday, 10am to 8pm Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6pm on Sunday. For more information, call 757-808-5111 or visit the store’s Facebook page. While the shop’s website is currently under construction, it will be accessible in June. Pour + Sip tickets are available via eventbright.com.