Candle makers are not raking it in

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Candle makers are not raking it in

There have been business winners and losers as a result of the never-ending candlelight rallies. But the biggest winner apparently isn’t all that thrilled.

A domestic candle makers’ association on Tuesday said that its members cannot meet demand. Rally organizers estimate that around 400,000 candles were used during just the June 6 to 10 period. Local discount retailer Lotte Mart said that its candle sales shot up around 28 percent from May 5 to 16, compared to last year.

But all is not a bed of roses for candle makers.

Though sales went through the roof, suppliers complain that because of a small profit margin, they aren’t raking it in. Instead, due to the rise in energy costs, paraffin costs have gone up to 2,000 won ($2) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) compared to 1,000 won last year. Some say they are actually losing money.

“With these candlelight rallies, people think that we [candle makers] are making big bucks. In reality, we’re losing money supplying more candles,” said an owner of a candle manufacturing company in Gyeonggi Province.

“Excluding raw material and labor costs, our profit margin is less than 20 percent,” said another candle supplier for a leading local discount chain.

Hotels around City Hall and Cheonggye Stream are also taking their lumps. “There are at least three or four diners per day canceling meals at our restaurant because rallies are blocking the roads to the hotel. Also, two to three guests per day complain about the protest noise,” grumbled a public relations manager at a hotel near City Hall.

On the other hand, Nowcom, a local online services company, should be smiling ear-to-ear. Its Afreeca Internet broadcasting service has featured live broadcasts of the rallies. The company said that it hit a record number of viewers. From May 25 through yesterday, it had 7.8 million viewers. On Tuesday, Afreeca showed 1,357 live broadcasts with 700,000 people tuned in.

“On the 10th [Tuesday], people tuned into not only Afreeca, but portals as well, including Daum and Naver. The total for all Internet viewers is estimated to be around 2 million,” said Kim Jin-suk, manager of Afreeca’s broadcast division at Nowcom.

Convenience stores around Cheonggye Stream and City Hall have also benefited from the rallies. Small supermarkets and coffee shops last week saw sales during rally days go up 1.5 to 3 times. Convenience store chain GS25’s Gwanghwamun branch saw a 200-percent leap in sales last month, compared to the same month last year.

By Cho Jae-eun Staff Reporter []
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