Until they started tracking the store’s burn victims, the team at Mockingbird on Broad didn’t realize how many people were injuring themselves with something that is very clearly on fire.
When the downtown Southern Pines shop began actively trying to get to 100 days without accident, Instagram fans collectively held their breath — until the inevitable post announcing failure. Over time, it’s become a running joke.
But, finally, in this magical Leap Year, it happened. No one singed their eyebrows, snorted hot wax, or melted off their fingerprints on a lit candle for a whole 100 days.
Owner Sundi McLaughlin is throwing a party to celebrate on Friday, with sales, pizza from SoPies, a pizza-shaped cake from C. Cups, and beer from Hatchet Brewing Co. The party starts at 11 a.m. Someone will probably burn themselves on the pizza.
A Look Back on Historical Burns:
The first is forever etched on Sundi’s brain.
It was a busy, beautiful day. The farmer’s market was open. The sun was shining. The first Mockingbird candle line had launched.
Soon after opening the doors, Sundi saw a 30-something golfer wander in. She watched as he walked over to the candles. She saw him lift the candle to his face. Then, she heard him yelling expletives.
“I immediately went over to him and said, ‘Sir, are you OK?,'” Sundi remembers. “He replied ‘SiR, aRe yOu OkAy??’ in a complete mockery of me and my voice.”
She immediately started sweating. Then she subtly pointed out the sign that said “candle is lit, fire is hot.” Things went downhill from there.
“He shouted at me that he would never again shop in my store and walked outside and got on his phone. I could hear him shouting, ‘I am standing in front of this store, yea it’s like Mockingbird or something, and I just burnt myself …’ He was on the sidewalk yelling and making a huge scene. I was 100 percent sure at that moment that he was going to sue me.”
Sundi called Michael Murphy, her insurance agent, in a complete panic. He was relieved to hear she had the sign.
“My husband, who was overseas at the time, called to check in and ended up laughing at the story. He said ‘Sweetheart, don’t worry. That man is not going to want to be the man who stands in front of a judge and says I am suing this woman because I got burned by a lit candle.’ He was apparently right — thank God it was the last I heard from that guy.”
A Burn That Made Courtney a Believer:
When Courtney (a longtime staff member) first started, Sundi told her about the burning danger. Courtney was skeptical. Some time later, Sundi was at market in High Point and Courtney called — panicked, hyperventilating. Sundi knew immediately it was candle related.
“I asked if the person was okay. She said yes. I asked if she was OK. She wasn’t sure. Apparently, someone took a big enough whiff to end up swallowing the wax — Courtney looked over and she was spitting wax everywhere. By the Grace of God or Humiliation, it must have cooled enough through the sniffing that it didn’t burn her and she left the store seemingly unaffected. The store, on the other hand, looked like a murder scene in the wax museum.”
Burns That Defied the Odds:
:: The ‘contained’ flame: Mockingbird put a large candle in a bigger container to hopefully help prevent burns. It failed. Someone picked it up, took it out of the container and started bumbling with it, yelling, “oh my god, it’s lit, it’s hot,” then spilled wax all over.
:: The unattended evidence: Someone had clearly spilled an entire candle but obviously didn’t want the staff to know. They never saw it happen, but there was evidence everywhere.
:: For all those saying “who does this:” There was once a beautiful, over-confident woman who laughed at the sign. She said “I cannot believe people do this. They are so stupid.” Then she burned herself.
The Excuse to Party:
As she prepares to celebrate this monumental occasion, Sundi has received congratulations from fans of Mockingbird — and those who have waited in anticipation for this day to finally arrive. Now, we wait for the inevitable post announcing that the streak is broken.