SWEETWATER, Texas -- Extensive candle sections are brightening general merchandise sales at Lawrence Bros.' Fiesta Food.
The chain here moves about 5,000 cases of candles a year to a largely Mexican customer base, said Walter Smith, supervisor of nonfood.
The category has become a fast-turning mainstay for the 19-store retailer, which has four 20-foot candle sections in its ethnic grocery aisle. The candles are included in ads.
"Candles have become one of the better selling general merchandise items at our stores," said Smith, adding that he keeps the top-20 selling candles in stock at all times at 10 Fiesta Mart Hispanic stores. "Our Hispanic customers will burn as many as four to six a week. Mexicans are very religious people, which makes this a big market for candles in our area," he said.
The retailer merchandises candles at an everyday low price of 99 cents, based on a 76-cent cost. "Wal-Mart and other retailers in our area offer the same candles as high as $2.19, and at an average $1.69," said Smith. "They usually devote about four feet of display space to the category where we give it a larger amount of room on ethnic grocery gondolas at our larger Hispanic stores."
Smith said while religious candles are good all year, they do especially well at various Mexican holidays including Sacred Heart of Jesus, Virgin de San Juan, Virgin de Guadalupe, St. Jude and St. Ramon.