Niles native to open new Victorian Steampunk-themed tea shop downtown
NILES, Mich.—For the last three years, Niles native Laura Hollister and her husband Shane have been looking for the perfect spot to open up the business of their dreams.
In August, the two started their lease at 222 E. Main Street and work began on Apothica Teas.
“We’re trying to provide spaces for people to enjoy each other’s company without the pressure of moving or needing to free a table up,” Hollister said.
Hollister placed the last pot of tea on the shelf on Wednesday, preparing for a targeted opening date of November 17, following a few inspections.
Apothica Teas will feature a large loose leaf tea selection, homemade clotted cream, coffee, crumpets and other treats.
But Hollister says this isn’t the spot for people on the move. She hopes to build community inside of the former gift shop.
“We’re mostly trying to create an experience bubble for you to step away from the all the chaos that is outside of the door and come in and just enjoy the relative quiet and the process of having something delightful,” Hollister said.
The experience of getting a cup of tea at Apothica includes picking out your own tea cup to use from a cupboard in the shop.
“Everyone is adopted, no one is new,” Hollister said of the tea cups available for customers.
And as for grabbing a cup to go, you’ll have to bring your own travel mug.
“If you do have to grab some tea on your way out the door, you can bring your travel mug in and I’ll fill it for you,” Hollister said. “I’ll have a few loaners available if you don’t have one, that way we don’t have to have any more single use plastic than necessary.”
Hollister says she has not ordered any single-use plastics for customers to use in her shop and has no plans to.
The Victorian Steampunk themed shop is a product of Hollister’s love of the literary genre of the same name, which mixes the romantic view of science in literature and pieces of the Industrial Revolution.
“I really like the juxtaposition of the china pieces and the lab equipment for the cream,” Hollister said.
Hollister designed the shop with her special needs son in mind, hoping to create an experience that is accessible to those with auditory and visual needs.
“I hope this can be a place for everyone to feel comfortable. I chose not to have any florescent lights or strong odors for that reason,” Hollister said.
Tea dueling, tea pot racing, community conversations, game nights, tea tasting and more are on the horizon for the new shop as well.
“My sons were into robotics and you actually build an RC base for the tea pot and race them. Robotics are so big around here,” Hollister said.
Hollister hopes that everyone from a knitting group to game designers will take up space at her tables and stay awhile.
Starting mid-November, you can find Hollister dressed in Victorian Steampunk themed costume serving tea from behind one of the shop’s two counters.
Items from local vendors including mugs from Chromafire and coffee from Red Dog Coffee will be available for purchase at the shop as well.
Business hours for Apothica Teas will be Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.