Pictured: Marybeth Lantz (L) and Jenny Loree (R), co-owners of Tattered Pages and Tea Room.

Photo and article by Pati LaLonde

Everything is for sale at Tattered Pages and Tea Room, located at 1817 N. Johnson St. in Bay City. Well almost everything. There is that wicker breakfast tray that sits on a table at the entrance to the business.  “It's the only thing in the store not for sale, it belongs to Jenny,” laughs Marybeth Lantz, who co-owns the store with daughter Jenny Loree. Other than that everything else is fair game. And what a selection there is to choose from.

The original idea for the shop, which opened in September, was to tap into the passions of mother and daughter – good tea and good books. “I live in the neighborhood,” Loree said. “I would frequently drive by this empty building and I was praying about opening a business. I wanted to build our community. We are book lovers and my great-grandmother loved tea. That's our two passions and we started with the store.”

But once the store was up and running, things began to blossom from there. And a third passion was born. “Neighbors came in, many of them artists,” Loree said. “The third passion is promoting local vendors and artists. We've had so much positive support from neighbors. We've met so many people.”

The store reflects that third passion. A sampling of items now filling the store range from honey to American Girl Doll clothing. The honey comes from Jeannette Warbil of Kawkawlin, who keeps the store stocked with raw, processed honey, while the soaps come from Vicki Blizzard's Blizzard Bay Soap Co. in Bay City. Another Bay City artist, Gregg Smith, offers decorated stepping stones, and a woman from Westland sells her mosaics. The American Girl Doll clothing comes from Ella Rupprecht and bulk teas from Ann Arbor. Neighbor Cheryl Williams stopped by and now offers her knitting for sale along with teaching classes after the first of the year. Williams is also the owner of the store's official mascot, a 4-year-old greyhound, Geisha.

Although the store is decked for the holidays now, that will change after the first of the year. There will  still be a little of this and a little of that for shoppers looking for a unique gift, but couches and comfy chairs will be added to the mix, giving customers a place to sit down, read and have a cup of hot tea.

The shop is a cozy place to come in from the cold and warm up. Walls are lined with books – rare and used, covering all genres – mystery, romance, science fiction, humor, self help, classics, arts, poetry and books for teens. Used books sell for $1 for paperbacks and $3 for hard cover. Rare books are more expensive, with prices being set by professionals at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

The whole feeling is like stepping into someone's home. Perhaps that's because it is bits and pieces from Loree's and Lantz's homes. Working with a limited budget, the women brought things from home to furnish the place. While  Loree stripped her house bare, Lantz says she had plenty to spare. 

“My daughter tapped into my love of garage and estate sales,” Lantz said. “I like it, nothing matches.” Indeed, it is an eclectic mix of furniture, a combination of over stuffed chairs, hutches, tables, and a back room that resembles an English garden. Groups of tables and chairs set with the  China tea sets, along with a couple of antique hutches fill the back room. While nothing actually matches, the white chairs and various floral patterns on the China pull it all together. Old-fashioned hats hang on a rose trellis on the back wall, and those stopping by for tea are welcome to wear one.

After the first of the year, the room will take on a new dimension of the garden when artist Cynde Paveglio begins painting a mural on the side wall. “The tea room resembles an English garden,” Lantz said. “The window (which is an eye catcher) looks like it's looking into the home. Cynde will be doing a mural on the wall, hollyhocks and daffodils.” Paveglio will host a lecture and demonstration Jan. 26 and Jan. 30 as she paints the wall. Tea and light lunch will be served as well. Reservations are needed.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to classes at Tattered Pages and Tea Shop. Williams will host knitting classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and offer trouble shooting on Saturdays. Etiquette classes, American Girl Doll tea parties and tea tastings are planned as well. Saturday is the day for kids with 11-year-old Kyle Loree hosting an origami class from 1-1:45 p.m. The cost is $3 per child ages 5 to 12. Private parties are welcome in the tea room as well. There is seating for up to 24. Reservations are needed and a light lunch along with tea will be provided, depending on what's needed.

For information on classes and special events call 992-4163, or log onto tatteredpagesandtea.com.

© Pati LaLonde, 2009