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Cathedral: Celebrating 16 Years in Hillcrest

Photo by Rebekah Sager

This year, owner of Cathedral Amy Capano, celebrates her 16th successful year of selling fragrances and candles in her sweet little store on University Ave., in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.

Originally selling tall wax candles and their holders, and now the trendy soy and natural wax candles with re-usable containers, Cathedral also sells vases, pillows, soaps, lotions, books, and pottery.

Cathedral is the anti-Abercrombie & Fitch—the smells that emanate from this boutique aren’t cloying and don’t waft beyond a couple of centimeters from their source—it’s a refreshing change, and if scent is your thing, then this is the place to be.

The store is decorated with beautiful branches, hanging flowers, and feathers, and between the sexy scents, and little books that celebrate love, it’s like a love oasis in the city—and following the same trends in spring fashion, much of the candles and holders in Cathedral are in vibrant colors this year.

Capano has recently expanded her offerings to include local jewelry designers and artists. She carries items from women like Barbara Royke of Bells & Whistles, an architect and jewelry designer, and Laurie McCray, a local photographer.

The scents in the store fall into five basic flavors—earthy, floral, citrus, woody, and fruit, and if you’re not sure what smells turn you on or off, Capano, aka “the scent snob”, will help you. “I’ll ask people what kind of food they like. For example baked goods smell like Vanilla. That can help a lot to steer me in the right direction with customers. Smell is one of those weird things. People have very strong reactions one way or the other. But once you tap into the smell that comforts someone or sparks something in them, you’ve got them,” Capano says.

When Cathedral first opened, Capano’s style and the style of candles was Gothic. Today the look is modern, with a more clean and fresh scent.

Curious about how a specialty store like Cathedral can stay in business for so many years? The answer seems to be that the candle industry has managed to evolve. Tapping into the organic, recycling, and natural food trends, candles and scents have changed with the times. “People want safer and more healthy alternatives to fragrance and candles, and these items simply make great gifts," says Capano. "People are always looking for things to buy for someone that they wouldn’t buy for themselves. My biggest business day is Mother’s Day, but I believe that candles and household fragrances are special little indulgences everyone should treat themselves to.”


Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: (619) 296-4046
  • Name: Cathedral
  • Address: 435 University Ave