The North Getty candle store has been around for over 40 years
Several students from Uvalde High School and their supervising teacher work daily to keep a small downtown business running. The Candle Shop, located at 313 N. Getty, has been around for over 40 years.
“Yet a lot of people don’t even know we exist,” noted Brenda Mueller. Mueller has been the teacher assigned to the workshop for three years.
“It was started about 40 years ago by Janey Briscoe. She started, as far as I know, because she had a friend (who was disabled) who needed a job. It was originally called Janey Briscoe’s Sheltered Workshop. At that time, it was for adults — it wasn’t for teenagers,” Mueller said.
The store operated like this for several years, then a cooperative was formed and operated the store for some time. It was closed for a few years before the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District took over construction and operation of the store.
Currently, 17 students are assigned to the workshop. Through this hands-on work in a real company, students develop a variety of skills.
“Their daily routine is always different, based on the needs of the students. Some children have a hard time writing, so they work on the writing a little every day. If someone has a problem with math, their task will be to write down what customers have purchased, calculate the total, and give change.
The Candle Shop also assists in the destruction of confidential documents.
“Students with limited abilities usually help out by shredding documents for the school district,” Mueller said.
“Some of the older students are working on social skills. We have customers who come throughout the day to purchase items made at the store. We have gift baskets with candles and firelighters, as well as individual candles and firelighter bags or cases.
Students clean and thread candle molds and tear strips of newspaper to create fire starters. Fire starters are a very popular item during the cold winter months. Students are not allowed to pour the hot candle wax, but they help remove the candles from the molds, shape the candles, and package them for sale.
“People donate to the shop all the time — mostly ribbons, coffee mugs and baskets that we can use in our projects,” Mueller said. “A lot of people come in, not realizing it’s not just a store, it’s part of the school district. When they realize it’s a school-sponsored program, they come more often because they care about what we do.
Money earned at the store is reinvested in the candle store to buy more materials. The candle shop business is treated like a school club, as part of the high school curriculum.
The store has had its share of publicity. It was featured prominently on a recent broadcast of YOLO Texas, a traveling show featuring communities and activities across the state of Texas.
And the recent Student Valentine’s Day showcase won second place among downtown businesses.