By Ariana Lovitt

Established in 2003, Middle Davids Artistan Candles specializes in candles, locally-made artwork, and fundraisers for students in Franklin.

Owner Dan Catlin’s initial interest in candle making came from a mission to promote sustainability and student-support through a hobby he shared with his father.

Catlin’s mother played a role, too. His mother was a teacher who ran field trips.Faced with the realization that some students may not be able to participate in trips due to costs, the candle fundraisers began to empower students to be involved.

Now, several local groups have earned over $500,000 in fundraising since 2010, and many of these groups still participate in fundraising through Middle Davids on an annual basis.

Sustainability and recyclability are also important aspects of the company. Everything from the boxes, jars, lids and wax are sustainable and reusable, which further reduces landfill waste and encourages recycling within the community and local businesses.

“If you think about it, in this process, it’s very easy to recycle,” said Tauria Catlin, Dan Catlin’s wife.

Used candle jars and lids can even be returned to the store for a $2.50 discount on another purchase.

Throughout the years, the community-focused business has cultivated a group of 50 local artists to display their works. Catlin estimates that of all the artwork sold in the store, 60 percent of it comes from Indiana artists, half of which are from Franklin.

“The thing about my store is that every- thing in here is done by an artist who typically will customize things. This is all unique stuff, and [customers] feel good giving gifts coming from here,” Catlin said.

The store recently started renting a building from the Franklin Department of Public Art at 100 S. Jackson St. As one of the longest-standing local businesses, Middle Davids has seen an array of changes within the local scene in just a decade.

Despite its long-standing reputation and production of unique candle scents, MiddleDavids receives minimal traffic from Franklin students. Local festivals, such as Discover Downtown Franklin, bring customers to the downtown area briefly, but not permanently.

“Obviously, there’s been more restaurants and more stores coming in, but we also have the Discover Downtown festival, and then the storeowners themselves have started to make some [festivals] of their own,” Catlin said.

Middle Davids is located at 100 S. Jackson St. in Franklin. Franklin College students are eligible for 10 percent off any candle.

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