Morton's supply chain for empty bottles is extensive, including donations from work, from supportive customers as well other local restaurants and bars, sometimes trading finished candles for more empties.
"I collect bottles from Laury's, Bridge Road Bistro, Edgewood, Whiskey River [Pub], the Moose Club and I have a few of my regular customers at Laury's who save bottles for me," he said. "I've accumulated probably about 2,000 bottles in the seven months I've been doing this."
Depending on the bottle and style, Bridge View candles start at about $35 on up to the most expensive one, a large magnum wine bottle candle for about $100.
"Liquor bottles get to be a little more expensive -- they're bigger, the lids are harder to make. Some are square like a Jack Daniel's bottle. We really hand-size that lid to fit."
The soy candles burn longer than regular wax candles, with his midrange candles burning up to 150 hours and bigger candles in liquor bottles burning from 180 to 200 hours. "The Grey Goose, Belvedere, Chopin vodka -- those are normally my longest-burning candles," Morton said.
The candles feature various scents, including coconut-lime, maple-bourbon, vanilla, lavender, cinnamon and fresh linen, as well as seasonal scents. He's gearing up for fall with orange clove, apple spice and pumpkin soufflé.
Morton notes that the soy wax seems to help some people with allergies that preclude them from burning regular candles. "I've talked to a few people who won't burn candles because of allergies, and the soy wax kind of cuts down on that. I've had a few people say, well, I could burn that candle."
He is fast off the mark when people question why they should buy what amounts to a gourmet candle, when they can just head to Michael's and buy one for $5.
"It's not going to be as unique as these candles. People buy them not only because of their scent, but the custom look of the bottle. Or if it's their favorite wine or alcohol or their friend's favorite wine."
He sells about a 100 candles a month, sometimes fewer, sometimes more, through his website and 10 retail outlets in Charleston, including the Wine Shop at Capitol Market and Stray Dog Antiques on Hale Street, plus an outlet in Teays Valley, two in Fayetteville and one at a family friend's gift shop in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
He hopes to make this sideline operation his main occupation someday. But the family conglomerate advises him that it will take a lot more sales to get there.
"That's kind of my goal right now -- to make it a wholesale and retail business. Mainly, it's something I do during the day -- and the night."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.