The Ashland Beacon
Andi Hunt spent 30 years as a nurse. Despite fighting the complications of Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, as well as having both knees replaced, Hunt pronounces herself to be “the least disabled person I know.” Her new tea shop is going to be her proof of life, as well as a way to save up a college fund for her great-granddaughter.
When you walk into the front room of the Herb n’ Stone Tea Shop, you are in what Hunt refers to as the “Seasons Room.” Hunt plans to change the décor of the room with each season. Right now, the room is decorated in fall leaves and autumn themes. On the coffee table lies a large, leather-bound book. The first page of the book contains the story of how her tea shop found its way into existence. She hopes that customers will add their experiences to the book beginning on opening day when she will try to have everyone that comes into sign it. The entire store was formed around the quote, “She believed she could, so she did.” She saw the quote at the end of 2018, followed by a Facebook ad for an herbology class. Wanting to do something that was still related to the health care field, she signed up.
Hunt started collecting recipes, ordering oils, teas, and product supplies and opened her own Etsy shop in March with 17 products. She quickly branched into tapestries, stones, and personal items and joined her first craft fair in April where she found herself making new items for customers right there on the spot. Matt Perkins allowed her to set up a display of her products at Second Hand Rose furniture store and they sold well. During this time, she also developed her own signature scents-one for women called “Derby Lady” and one for men called “Bluegrass Stakes.”
When the store opens Sept. 9, she will have 300 products to choose from, including 149 flavors of tea and 25 flavors of coffee. Hunt wanted to open a shop to showcase her products and “provide a laid back, home atmosphere for all ages” to serve teas and coffees. Hunt explained that she lucked into a building downtown that she has renovated and decorated to create a place where “friends can come relax and shop” and have a cup of coffee or tea.
The second room of the shop is the Harry Potter room. The chairs are covered in Harry Potter-themed fabric and Harry Potter memorabilia is displayed throughout. Hunt is a big fan of the Harry Potter series. She owns a real Sorting Hat, a set of robes, and a Gryffindor tie. This is also the room that she refers to as the “tea room.”
The Willy Wonka room holds all of the products being offered for sale. There are doorknobs hanging on the walls and a “helping hand.” The chairs are covered in fabric decorated with candy and balloons. She will sell regular diffusers, diffuser necklaces, and has ordered cuff links for the men. There are also Chakra stones and sets, hard-to-find stones, geodes, and stones that are hand-painted by her daughter. There are tea bags, loose teas, and the spoons that are used to serve them.
All of the personal products and many of the household products that are offered for sale are handmade by Hunt herself. She offers goat’s milk soap, shea butter soap and cold-pressed soap. There are candles and scented waxes that can go into a warmer and waxes that can go into a vent. There are 48 scents for shoppers to choose from, and Hunt will take the product upstairs and scent it for customers on the spot. Products include shampoo, lotion, bath scrub, beard oil and foot powder. Gift baskets can be made and include a note for the recipient telling them to bring the items back to the store to be scented with their preferred scent.
The tea shop also has a reading nook with an electric fireplace and a children’s corner. The children’s corner has an area with a small picnic table and blocks and crayons to keep them occupied. There are also small crafts available to them. The wall is covered with a large mural that her granddaughter drew by hand in an Alice in Wonderland theme.
Hunt is planning many events in the future of the tea house that will encompass all ages. For high school students, she is planning a game night for at least one Friday night per month. The students will place their cellphones in a basket and be locked in the building with the alarm set to go off if a door is opened. They can play the card games, dice, or board games that she has available or bring their Magic the Gathering cards. Hunt says that the idea is for them to “learn to talk to each other in more than 140 characters.”
For junior high students, she will have people come in Saturday afternoon to read to them and have a themed craft to go with the story. She will be doing the first event herself with a Harry Potter theme. She is going to bring in her Harry Potter sorting hat and sort them into houses. She will read part of the book about the sorting ceremony and they will make wands out of chopsticks.
For the younger students, she is planning a Mommy and Me tea and for the very young, there is the Children’s Corner. There will even be a “pet day” one Saturday afternoon.
She is also planning to offer “High Tea” on a Sunday afternoon following the British royal rules. She will teach a class about the etiquette of the tea on the Saturday before and explain the four courses and all of the other rules. The waiters will wear tuxedos and she expects everyone to show up on time wearing white gloves.
Hunt also plans to use the shop to help others in the community. She has a statue sitting in the season's room that will collect donations as patrons enter and exit the tea shop. Each month Hunt will choose a new charity to be the recipient of the donations and it will be displayed above the statue. The charity will get everything that is donated from the first day of the month to the last.
For more information on the Herb n’ Stone Tea Shop, follow them on Facebook where Hunt will announce all upcoming events. There is currently information on her page about opening day, upcoming events and her Early Risers program.