Cass Ruhlman didn’t want to regret never opening a brick-and-mortar location of her tea shop, so she did just that 18 months ago on South Third Street.
On Saturday, she’ll close that shop at 220 S. Third St.
“I’ve enjoyed this, but I’m tired,” she said. “People have tea parties on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I have a life and a child, so for a year and six months, I have missed almost every single weekend activity.”
While she hired staff to take the load off, “most people want me.”
“I am my product,” Ruhlman said. “I am the Tea Lady. I grow it, I blend it, I serve it.”
Ruhlman said closing the physical store “is a smart move” for her business because she can’t do some things while minding the shop.
“I’ve essentially had two jobs,” she said, working the shop and then after dinner starting her second job of blending her teas for online and in-store sales. “My thought was, ‘If I’m in a physical shop, a lot of my local people that have bought from me all these years will just come here.”
They didn’t. They continued buying online.
So, Ruhlman’s tea products will again only be online, but she will still have her tea parties with her “pretty china, tea and little sandwiches.” She will host those at The Benninghofen House at 807 Dayton St., a boutique hotel and event space in the Dayton Lane neighborhood.
“Tea parties are the perfect fit for The Benninghofen House,” said Bekki Rennick. “The elegance of Cass’s tea parties against the Victorian background of the house is picture-perfect and magical.”
The Benninghofen House hosts several activities, such as yoga classes, public and private events, retreats, and reunions, and has overnight stays in the upstairs apartments.
“We have found so many great ways to utilize this unique space, and tea parties work well here,” Rennick said, who said she loves Ruhlman’s farm-to-teacup approach “and her drive to bring tea made with locally grown flowers to these parts.
Ruhlman said she’s done events at The Benninghofen House previously.
While she’s sad she’s closing the shop, she’s “very excited” at the same time.
“Starting this was, ‘If I don’t try, I’m going to regret it.’ We’ve all had that feeling, ‘I sure wish this is something I would’ve tried,’” Ruhlman said. “Now I’ve done it and I figured out I don’t want to be in a box all day. I like to be out in the garden. I like to be out with my farmers, seeing them and picking up my stuff and blending.”
The last day Kinship will be open is on Saturday, but from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, Kinship will have a sidewalk sale for some of the antiques and larger furniture items in the store.