Ayear ago, it looked like there was going to be a boutique hotel put into some of the oldest structures in downtown Winslow.
But instead the space will now be devoted to the recently opened and family operated Bainbridge Apothecary & Tea Shop, a homeobotanical store that offers luxury teas, baked goods and herbal
“We are not going to be a boutique hotel,” store owner Erika Thayer said with a chuckle, squashing that report, which apparently fell through.
Thayer said the property has had an extensive history, noting a family occupied the space for almost 100 years. In an effort to restore the prized possession of Winslow, Thayer and her family purchased all four buildings.
“We are going to restore it back to its original greatness and hopefully bring something to the community that is magical,” she said. “We have kind of an interesting start already…We still have people coming in and asking us when the (boutique) hotels are going to be in.”
Currently, only two of the buildings are operational, one for the tea shop and the other for apothecary practices. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Thayer said the business is taking it slow and waiting for state guidance before expanding to the other two buildings.
“We’re attempting to be meticulous,” she said. “We just slow everything down….so we can have this more methodical approach to keeping everybody safe.”
Bainbridge Apothecary & Tea Shop opened July 1 and offers a niche service with its teas and remedies while also making and selling its own masks and hand sanitizer.
“We can really help people during this time,” Thayer said. “My heart goes out to those who are
struggling right now; this has been a difficult time for our community.
“We kind of had to change the way we approach things at this time but we’ve only known (COVID-19). We just are adapting accordingly. My biggest priority is protecting the employees and protecting the customers that come in, but also providing a safe respite for people to feel love and compassion and
The shop is open for limited in-person service with social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing. Surfaces are frequently disinfected and anyone handing over something has to be wearing gloves, Thayer said.
Thayer’s background in the tea and herbs business extends to nearly 30 years, while most recently being a certified health coach at her self-employed Bainbridge Holistic Health. She also studied sauces at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and graduated in 2005.
Although the tea shop is a cute little fixture, Thayer said the meat of the business is the apothecary.
“Really, the apothecary is the special place for us,” she said. “The Apothecary offers old-world, traditional herbal remedies from the earth, from the root that will not only help restore the body back to its original balance but help us heal in a more natural way. It can help fortify our immune system. We’re trying to create simplistic healing remedies.”
While the tea shop offers various drinks like black, green, herbal and wellness teas, the apothecary section offers a wide selection of tonics and elixirs, which are in essence a stronger version of the wellness teas because they are mixed together to create “whole-body wellness,” Thayer said.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” she said. “What we represent is so much more than just a little tea house. The herbs next door are so much more to me than just these
little bottles of cream. It’s this offering to bring people some form of relief, some form of peace during what is our history’s most profound time.”
Thayer said the origins of apothecary and tea working together has gone back centuries as ways to fortify and protect the body using remedies from the earth to solve ailments. She also noted the popularity of tea worldwide, noting it’s the second-most consumed beverage on the planet next to water.
“Americans have a little more affinity to the coffee bean but tea is such an intrinsic part of wellness,” Thayer said. “Tea offers a moment of civility and the connection between remedies that can calm us. That’s what the blessing of the leaf
The Apothecary also includes local craft artisan items, homemade or household products, as well as works from local artists. The shop showcases a different local artist every month by hanging their work on the walls.
One of the driving forces behind the artistic direction is creative director Steven Fogell, who also is the event coordinator and artist-in-residence. Fogell is responsible for much of the artwork at the shop.
“He did all of this extraordinary artwork,” Thayer said. “This is a really nice connection for artists on the island who feel like they can showcase the best of what they’re doing right now in this incredibly stressful time. The expressions that are coming out are amazing. I want us to be kind of that center where we do offer unique things. I don’t feel like we compete with anybody.”
COVID-19 permitting, Thayer is eventually looking to build out the rest of the property in the back portion to offer ambient local music and entertainment, including theater, citing celebrating local artists as “one of our biggest passions.” In September, the tea shop will be expanding its menu to accommodate takeout and outdoor seating with food items like tapas, soups, house-made breads, tarts and pies.
“The history of what this property represents to the island, it needed to be restored,” Thayer said. “We also feel the importance of the new, we as a civilization are changing.”
Bainbridge Apothecary & Tea Shop is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Fridays, the shop is open until 8 p.m. for happy hour when empanadas and sangria are offered. If folks are interested in a private afternoon tea, they can call the shop for reservations at 206-201-3667.
Additionally, folks interested in herbal wellness remedies can set up a private session with Thayer on Tuesdays by appointment. The shop is closed Monday and Tuesday to accommodate a more “private experience in shopping and wellness consultation,” Thayer said.
“I feel blessed that I can also provide counsel to people,” she said. “I feel very humbled to be able to help people find something that is making them feel better.”