Michael McPolin’s story sounds like one straight from the television show "Shark Tank": The owner of a small candle business starts making his product at home on the stove and then he lands a deal with Whole Foods.
But the Yaphank resident didn’t need an appearance on "Shark Tank" or the sharks to make a splash. Whole Foods called him.
"I think the products were scouted by one of their buyers at an independent retailer in Manhattan," McPolin, 31, who owns Roote in Center Moriches, says. "Whole Foods in Commack reached out to us to test the product, then it jumped to three or four stores. Now, it’s in about 40 stores" throughout the country. His handmade products are also sold by small retailers nationwide and in Canada and include natural soaps, bath bombs, lotions and body scrubs.
And when the pandemic hit, McPolin, says his company was hit with bigger sales than expected.
"A lot of mom and pop and Main Street stores were closed and the only thing open was grocery stores, so people were doing a little more than food shopping," McPolin says. "They wanted to be soothed and relaxed."
The company started in 2016 as Birch & Main at The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River. It was relocated two years later to East Main Street in Port Jefferson, then in 2020 it moved to its current 1,500-square-foot space at 378 Main Street in Center Moriches, where the business was rebranded as Roote. The new site houses McPolin’s production studio where he still makes his products with the help of three other people. At the front of the building is a showroom and retail store that opened in June.
McPolin says the roots of Roote stem back to his own love of candles.
"I’m a candle freak," McPolin says. "I have candles burning in almost every room all the time." He started making candles as a hobby eight years ago and gave them as gifts to family and friends.
Diffusers are available too for those who want fragrance in a room but don’t want to burn a candle. To McPolin, however, there’s nothing like a real candle.
"A candle just livens up a space and creates a mood, an atmosphere," McPolin says. "And you can find a scent for any time of the day or year."
Roote candle prices range from $20 to $32 and body care products range from $8.50 for a bar of soap to body and room mists for $26. Hours are Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. and private shopping can be arranged by appointment; 631-909-2018, rooteofficial.com.