Business: Through the Looking Glass
Owner: Wendy Birkbeck, 47, of Absecon
Location: 615 E. Moss Mill Road, Unit 93, in Historic Smithville Village Greene, Galloway Township
Employees: Owner-operated, with help from children
Through the Looking Glass is a tea bar. We have 46 blends of loose-leaf tea. We sell them packaged and people can come in and get a cup of tea.
It’s not like a traditional tea house, where you get tea sandwiches and scones and such. The tea is served in eco-cups to go.
We sell anything that anyone could possibly need to make the perfect pot or cup of tea. We have every crazy gadget there is. We have all sorts of teapots. We have a great teapot brand called For Life, with built-in infusers.
I have everything from a standard green tea to one I’ve made for the punk-rock people next store. That’s a black tea with chocolate and red pepper flakes.
A green tea with ginger and coconut called Bangkok is a big seller, and my signature tea sells well. That's a green and white tea with vanilla, bergamot and rose hips, and then I put a little cornflower in there and it gives you a slightly blue color in your cup.
The Noyes Museum approached me about doing a tea for them, which is stocked there and here.
It has blueberries, elderberries, currants, hibiscus, rose hips and lemon balm, and it’s called Fred and Ethel’s Creativitea.
My biggest selling thing is called a tea traveler. People can put the tea leaves in, then the water and then two lids. When you’re ready to drink, you take the top lid off and there’s a strainer on the remaining lid. That costs $22.
Downstairs is the tea bar, and the upstairs was a bookstore. I’ve just come to the realization the past couple of months that books do not sell.
So what we’re doing, we’re changing the bookstore into a UK store, as in United Kingdom. We’re going to have English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh merchandise, and then all the English and Irish foods, which I’ve brought in already and are doing terrifically. People asked me to bring that in and so many people are happy about it.
We also have gifts including Guinness merchandise, dishes, mugs, tankards, jewelry and apparel.
For some reason, young people are very attracted to the Union Jack right now. I think that stems from “Doctor Who.”
Another line of teapots and cups are themed “Alice in Wonderland,” “Snow White” and “Wizard of Oz.”
We also carry “disappearing mugs,” such as ones of Van Gogh and “Doctor Who.” When you put the hot water in, the artist’s ear disappears, or the TARDIS disappears from one side of the mug and appears on the other.
Entry: Smithville was always my getaway place. When the building became available, I knew what I wanted to do and had to have it.
Business editor Kevin Post