Like the packets of teas, spices, sugars and cocoas that Spice Merchants sells, this cozy store in Petoskey packs a lot of goodness into a small space. While one side of the store is filled with spice blends for a variety of cooking needs, it's what lies on the other side of the shop that will delight tea enthusiasts. Shelves are lined with a large variety of black, green, white and herbal teas that are as inviting as the store's staff.
Store manager, Kole Slabaugh, along with his five month old pup, Lux, warmly welcomes visitors to the relatively new addition to downtown Petoskey, a resort community in northern Michigan on the banks of Little Traverse Bay. The store opened in October of last year and Slabaugh was on board from beginning.
"My interest for working at Spice Merchants started when I first saw the new store moving into town. I walked up and introduced myself to the owner Bob Seitz," says Slabaugh, in an interview last weekend. "As we got to talk, I found a friendly, kind man who I realized that I would love to work for and the rest fell into place."
That meeting of owner and future manager evolved into a store environment that makes you feel like you're entering the home of a neighbor - albeit one that offers an incredible selection of loose tea blends. There are traditional, familiar teas, such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast, but also unexpected selections like "Birthday" and "Spa". The latter blends not only provide tea drinkers with new taste treats, but some fun gift ideas as well.
Slabaugh encourages guests to open the tea jars and get a good look at the blends as well as inhale the scent of the ingredients.
When asked what surprises visitors most about the store, Slabaugh says he wasn't sure if there was any one thing in particular, but adds "most people that walk through our door seem to be pleasantly surprised by the smell alone."
In addition to delightful aromas, patrons will find a large assortment of spices and specialty blends for grilling, pasta and oil dippers. The store also carries spice racks, jars, mortar and pestles, tea goods and Himalayan salt blocks.
Spice Merchants is located at 304 East Lake Street, Petoskey. For more information call 231-881-9028 or visit the stores website, Spice Merchants.