NewsLocal News


Ever wonder where churches get their supplies?

Posted at 7:53 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 20:53:30-04

There are some churches that are incredibly ornate with fancy chalices where priests wear elegant robes and the decorations gleam golden in the sunlight, but where do they get all that? Some shop at T. H. Stemper Co in Milwaukee.

"Everything and anything that a church needs to operate their services," co-owner Dan Stemper said.

The company has been family run since 1911. While you may or may not think about where all those fancy things come from, the Stempers have made a living off that thought process.

"Most people who attend church realize there are candles burning," said Stemper. "We love candles. They are consumables. There's [sic] 1,100 different types of candles that we sell."

They also sell chalices, chasubles (the clothes clergy wear), statues, communion bread, bibles, religious literature and everything in between.

"We have chasubles that are under $100 and we have chasubles that are over $2,000," Stemper said.

Some of the chalices are more than $7,000.

The Stempers are always on the lookout for a good buy too. The store is constantly looking statues it can refurbish and sell.

"As churches close as they remodel, what becomes available are items like (Statues) that are in this consignment room," Stemper said.

It's this spirit that spurs Dan Stemper as a businessman. However, he is lead by his faith. He admits that can make it hard to keep the two separate when he's at a church service.

"I have to prevent myself from getting distracted by looking in the sanctuary and say, 'Oh those candles really need to be refinished why can’t we get that done for them.'"

However, it's that combination of faith and business that has allowed the Stemper family business to thrive for more than a hundred years. Recently, they bought a similar store in La Crosse.