If you’d rather spend your time shopping at the best candle shops in NYC than at happy hours—well, it’s time to admit you’re a true candle freak. It’s okay; embrace it. Let it ignite you! There’s no shame in loving home décor stores. But if you’re going to going to be a devoted candle kook, you need to support your local wax workers. That’s why we’ve collected some of the best brands and boutiques in New York peddling their smelly masterpieces around the city, from architectural works of art to earthy spirit boosters to mason jars of simplicity.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to shopping in NYC
Best candle shops in NYC
Red Flower candles are made to speak to your roots. “I think scent is very personal,” founder Yael Alkalay says in her calming Prince Street store reminiscent of flower shops. Each of her candles is named after a flower—Icelandic moonflower, Italian blood orange, Spanish gardenia. With petals nestled on top of the wax, a very authentic floral scent emanates from the essential oils in each creation, speaking to the nature child in all of us.
Our candle pick: French Lavender: lavender, peperina, sage ($38)
Three years ago, two roommates on Keap Street in Brooklyn bonded over their love of candles…and their disdain for crazy-high price tags. So they started making their own. Now, with fragrances like Green Market, which will transport you to Union Square on a Saturday, or Waves, which will take you back to that vacation you took to the Mediterranean, they’re knee-deep in the candle business. If you need to try the scents out for yourself before committing, Keap sells a sample kit, or if you’re a candlephile, you can sign up for the monthly subscription service. With each order, Keap donates a solar-power lamp for families primarily in West Africa.
Our candle pick: Green Market: basil, mint, hyacinth ($35)
If vanilla scents are really weighing on your sophistication level, you might deserve a trip to MiN—you’ll practically drown in luxury once you enter the store. But beware, MiN’s fragrances aren’t for everyone (no cinnamon apple or pumpkin spice here). The complexly crafted candles contain unorthodox notes, like the ones named after legendary punk venue Mudd Club, which boasts undertones of sweat and Sharpie. Holy Smoke has notes of elemi heart, aldehyde and olibanum—whatever those things are. Either way, the staff will help you match a scent to your personality so your apartment will never feel boring again.
Our candle pick: Summer Vine: cassis buds, fig, matcha tea ($95)
Harlem Candle Company
Teri Johnson is a Harlem history buff who wants to go back and witness the class and creativity of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance for just one day. But since time travel does not yet exist, she uses scent to take her back in time. Harlem Candle Company touts candles like Lenox, a light, floral imagining of Lenox Ave’s florists once upon a time, and Ellington, a swatch of bergamot, amber and patchouli representative of Duke Ellington’s gentlemanliness. Each candle box is printed with an authentic ‘20s cartoon map of Harlem’s hoppin’ clubs, so slide into that olfactory time machine and go, go, go.
Our candle pick: Holiday: green pine, eucalyptus, cedarwood ($42)
Various locations (harlemcandlecompany.com)
When stone sculptor Andrej Urem moved to New York, he needed a medium that didn’t weigh so much—hence how he got into designing wax. With intricate nooks and crannies programmed into his 3-D printers, Urem creates an architect’s waxy dream. Sold in museum gift shops, his cubic structures look too pretty to ignite, but oh, that’s the point. When an AU candle burns, the light from the inside illuminates the different thicknesses of wax, revealing a whole new facet of design from within.
Our candle pick: Milk: An original Urem bulbous design ($35)
Joya Studio is a workshop, event space and fragrance design studio all wrapped up in one. With an in-house perfumer (rare for candle companies) and production of their own ceramic vessels, Joya oversees a candle from start to finish. While they help commercial clients produce candles of their dreams (they recently made a cherry wood smoke candle for The Tonight Show), they have a signature candle line of their own you can buy. Joya can also help you find a customized perfume to wear when you stop by to see the candles in production. And if you need another reason to visit, there’s a cat who wanders around the shop.
Our candle pick: Foxglove: blood orange, honeyed jasmine, treaty oak ($78)
If you’ve seen a bearded dude biking his candles around Brooklyn, that’s probably Johnathan Kroeger, who moved to New York from Cincinnati on a bicycle. A perpetual craftsman with a need to create, Kroeger’s been making Good Candle in mason jars sans dye for five years. And since he’s such an outdoorsman, there’s a lot of delicious woodsy scents, like best-sellers Campfire, Spruce, Basil, Meadow and Cedar.
Our candle pick: Tomato Vine: citrus, green herb, fresh, true green tomato vine accord ($34)
Various locations (goodcandlebk.com)