Virginia and Mike Jadidy, owners of By Candlelight, one of the few remaining candle stores in Los Angeles, and the Farmers Market Variety Store, have been Farmers Market tenants for more than 40 years. The Jadidy’s talk with Farmers Market about how business has changed over the decades.
Virginia Jadidy, who in partnership with her husband Mike operates the Farmers Market Variety Store and By Candlelight--one of the few remaining candle stores in Los Angeles—has been a tenant of Farmers Market for more than 40 years.
In fact, you could say that owning a business at Farmers Market is in Virginia’s blood.
Owning a Business at Farmers Market
Virginia’s family has owned a number of shops at Third & Fairfax practically since the Market’s inception. Her grandfather started the Feed Rite Pet Shop in 1939, just five years after the Market opened to the public. A true family business, the shop was later run by Virginia’s father, and then taken over by Virginia’s husband Mike, after her dad retired.
Although the Pet Shop has since closed, the couple continue the family tradition, running several stores on site. They operate the Farmers Market Variety Store, also a family business, which has been open at Farmers Market for nearly 40 years.
Their other shop, By Candlelight, which opened 20 years ago, was built from the ground up. As was the style for many of the Market stalls during the 90s, By Candelight was originally an open-air space, but Mike & Virginia erected walls around the space.
The Jadidy’s also did a decade-long stint as owners of the Farmers Market Postal Center.
“Farmers Market Management used to run the post office, but then they stopped,” said Mike. “But the people in the neighborhood really wanted to keep it going, because it’s in such a convenient location. So the Market approached us to see if we’d like to run it.”
Now the Jadidy’s, who are talking about semi-retiring, have sold the postal center, which is located in the North Market.
Virginia reminisces that when they opened By Candlelight in 1994, candles were still very much a novelty. So much that people always asked her how the store was ever going to succeed.
“But it’s worked out very well for us,” she said.
Back then the most popular candles were pillars, but now people come in looking for the more trendy, highly-scented candles. Brand name items like Yankee Candle Company, Signature Candles and Voluspa Candles are top sellers.
“No matter what you buy, all of our candles are good quality,” said Mike. “We don’t sell cheap candles in there.”
Of course the stall has its regular customers, who usually pick up tapers for their holiday celebrations.
“But,” says Mike, “Virginia is our own best customer.”
“I like the scented candles,” she agrees.
In the Variety shop, the California and Los Angeles branded T-Shirts are a huge hit with customers, many of whom are tour bus passengers visiting The Market.
“Although it costs a little more, we keep the quality of the t-shirts high,” said Mike. “And we feature original designs.”
Virginia’s favorite item are the comfortable Snoozies Slippers, a colorfully designed slipper sock. They are especially popular with visitors who don’t want to walk barefoot in their hotel room, according to Mike.
Farmers Market for Romance
In addition to being part of a Farmers Market legacy family, Virginia also says Farmers Market is where she and Mike first met.
Although she was working at Sak’s Fifth Avenue on Wilshire Blvd at the time, she was also helping out part-time at Farmers Market. One day, while working in her family’s t-shirt shop, a friend from the nearby produce stall said those magic words, “I have a man I’d like you to meet.”
At the time Mike was completing his Master’s Degree in business at Northrup University.
Virginia agreed to meet him, and the rest as they say, is history.
“So he came into our business, and we’ve been together ever since,” said Virginia.