A Virginia Gentleman in Yankee Candle/Do You Know the Way to Williamsburg?

Pulling into the nearly empty parking lot, the Yankee Candle Factory appears to be three separate buildings standing together – a yellow wood paneling, brick in the middle, and blue wood paneling. Three separate entrances gives the consumer different options from which to enter. A gentleman sat on a rocking chair talking into his cell phone in front. I entered through the central entrance, hoping for a symmetric layout. Upon entering, the olfactory takes over sorting and trying to place a name on the familiar scents.
I’d always been meaning to go, but never found the time. I’d heard stories from friends about their Saturday afternoons when they had nothing else to do. “You should go. Don’t skip the Christmas room; it snows!”
It was like entering a town, ironically within a building. The ceiling is painted to look like the sky, building facades are in place to entice customers, all centered around the town clock. It was all very reminiscent of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Surveying the place, it seemed as though the complete idea was to recreate Anytown, U.S.A. in the “good old days,” where things were simpler and happiness was free.
On the left hand side was the register and home goods. Following the indoor road, a fudge shop seems out of place. Home goods and the Christmas area are just around the corner. The Christmas area is dimly lit, trying to capture the anticipation just before the big day. Decorated trees surround you as you cross a miniature bridge complete with a miniature train chugging above. Curiously, no candles have been sold in any area yet – just knick-knacks and ornaments. Next to the Christmas area is a toy shop. They sell typical toys that could be found anywhere. There’s a general store and then the candles. I realize at this point the music playing above. I back track to see if each area has its own music and sure enough, it does. The Christmas area has Christmas music, the general store has big band playing, and the candle section plays light music – Paul McCartney and Wings, Michael Buble, etc.
As I peruse the vast candle section, the largest section of the store, I take note of the candles arranged by color, creating an aesthetic for the eyes and nose. The scents mingle together into one giant lump of smell. I look at the names of the products they sell – Clean Linen, Festival of Lights, Macintosh Apple.
There was a feeling of appealing to the child within each customer, especially since a third of the factory was devoted to Christmas and toys. It was a welcoming environment with no feelings of hesitation or unease. In fact, the framing and structure of the place felt oddly familiar.

MAPS ESSAY
I purchased a detailed from WaWa – “ADC: The Map People, Williamsburg, Virginia Visitor’s Map.” In splendid Technicolor, it details Williamsburg from Busch Gardens to James City County District Park. The center of the map shows the College of William and Mary precisely where most students would place the College anyway. The surrounding yellow shows the historic area, much larger than I knew to be.
The reverse of the map shows more detailed areas. The inserts of Colonial Williamsburg and the Colonial National Historic Park highlight their importance in the area. This map is designed for tourists since these two areas are on display in addition to the title “Virginia Visitor’s Map.” The back also has a descriptive list of Points of Interest discussing the Governor’s Palace and various landmarks of Williamsburg and Jamestown.
The other map I obtained was a free map from Colonial Williamsburg. The map is not as colorful as the first. In fact, it resembles the design of a colonial map, perhaps intended to engage the visitor into the spirit of Williamsburg. The only color on the back is reserved for specially highlighted attractions and necessities – bathrooms, telephones, shopping, food, and points of interest. Interestingly, private homes are given no color. In this instance, they just blend with the background gaining no attention from visitors. They won’t point to such a building and ask “What’s that;” they’ll simply glance over it. Duke of Gloucester street is the central point of the map showing most of the points of interest are either on the street or branch from it. The right hand side of the map writes out the ticket deals available and a list of customs and courtesies the park wishes patrons would follow.
The weekly schedule of events is on the reverse. This map is reprinted weekly to update details. In fact, the cover writes the map is specifically for the week of January 14-20. Events are listed by day and time so visitors can plan accordingly and efficiently. The rest of the map is scattered with ads drawing attention to specific programs and exhibits.
Both maps were printed on a fine glossy paper. While they will wear down, they’ll last for some time. The Colonial map is less bulky than the Williamsburg map. I noticed most of the visitors in Williamsburg would have the map in their back pocket for easy access. The Williamsburg map would be hard to fit in back pockets. As a tourist, I would prefer the Colonial map, but the aesthetic of the Williamsburg nice is more appealing to me. Yet, its girth and the difficulty of refolding it make me care less for both maps.


About

The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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