ILLUMINATIONS Bright Beginnings

ILLUMINATIONS original Founder Wally Arnold was on a quest to find something unique and inspiring. While visiting London, Wally found himself standing before a shop window mesmerized by the flicker and dancing light pattern of a candelabra. The warm aura of the candlelight drew him into that welcoming space, where inspiration struck as he explored the many candles on offer.

Returning home to the U.S., Wally sought to bring his passion for candles, and the idea of living with candlelight every day, to homes and other spaces all across America. He launched the first ILLUMINATIONS retail store in 1996. The newness of using candles in everyday life as a means of transforming and enhancing environments became a welcome standard.


Dark wood-trimmed ILLUMINATIONS stores were hubs of community, centered on sharing skills and evolving ideas. Long before social media made DIY projects and idea sharing easy, the ILLUMINATIONS stores offered engagement by seasonally redesigned store displays and in-store skills classes where new friends and great memories were made (and great home decor!).

For browsing at home, the ILLUMINATIONS robust catalogs delivered gorgeously photographed candlelit settings, accented by innovative product and exciting home décor and entertaining concepts.


Wally’s dream was easy to understand and enjoy. And a growing customer base appreciated that ILLUMINATIONS lived up to its intention of providing only the highest quality candles and home décor. The company quickly grew to over 1700 employees and a coast to coast network of 83 stores.

The brand was acquired by Yankee Candle in 2006 but the magic of Wally’s original vision was lost in the transition. Faced with recession pressures, Yankee shuttered the ILLUMINATIONS stores, and in 2009 the final ILLUMINATIONS candles were sold. After more than a decade of sharing the simple joys of living with candlelight, the ILLUMINATIONS dream was extinguished.


In 2019, one of ILLUMINATIONS loyal former customers, Mitch Davis, resolved to rekindle the dream. He sought out Wally Arnold—who provided early advice, and some of Wally’s original resources, including the brand’s favorite fragrance house and an ILLUMINATIONS former product expert, Pamela Donnellan. With great reverence for the original company and its compelling dream, the new team planned a rebirth of ILLUMINATIONS that pairs inspiring product with the intention to give back to the community.

To further the continuity with the original dream ILLUMINATIONS will continue to involve as many former team members as possible. From hiring a long ago ILLUMINATIONS photographer to capture the evocative new product shots, to seeking out product and fragrance sentiments of former staff, contributions of once and future team members are embraced.

ILLUMINATIONS company ethos of community involvement is more important than ever in this era, and a special focus for the company. Every sale is meaningful because it brings a new opportunity to help others through charitable giving.

And as before, the new ILLUMINATIONS seeks to transform the rooms people use every day into better balanced living and working spaces, where life is both accomplished and enjoyed. We plan to relight the marketplace with innovative, best quality products and inspire a sense of connection between the company, our customers and the community.