Tonawanda News

December 16, 2013

North Tonawanda shop sells organic herbs, spices, teas

By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Polly Gillebaard and Mary Kunkel said that since they opened their new store, Herbal Traditions — an herb and spice shop — Nov. 7, they’ve had a few people wander in, wondering if they’ll be selling sausages.

The store, which is situated right around the North Tonawanda and Wheatfield border on Shawnee Road, specializes in bulk spices, herbs and teas, and just about anything you could think of that would be made with such products, including bath salts, lip balms and other body care products.

It might seem a little funny that some customers expected to purchase a hunk of sausage at the shop, but Kunkel explained the location is the site of the former Shawnee Meat Market, where her father and grandfather used to work before it closed down within the last decade.

While her lineage may indicate an interest in pork and beef, Kunkel said she and Gillebaard are much more interested in organic, whole foods and how such items can have a healing effect on the body. 

”Our friendship started around healthy products,” Kunkel said of her five-year friendship with Gillebaard.

The two met through a homeschooling group and quickly realized they shared a common interest in the way certain herbs and teas can heal the body.

Gillebaard found that drinking teas made from barley green, for example, and eliminating the chemicals found in certain household products, like laundry detergent, helped her ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Similarly, Kunkel wanted to find natural ways to handle a thyroid problem that didn’t involve radioactively killing the gland that was causing her so many problems.

”I wanted to try everything else before they killed part of my body,” Kunkel said, adding that she tried to eat as organically as possible to held treat the condition. “My thyroid condition went away and never came back.”

The two business partners said they wanted to help other people have easier access to the organic ingredients they said have helped them.

The products help “your body build up those minerals and good things,” Gillebaard said. “There are so many good things God made and they help your body.”

Take nettle leaves, for instance. They are a good source if iron and can be drunk in a tea or made into a soup. Other herbs can be used to increase energy, some can help you sleep.

The teas are mixed in-house with the very herbs and spices Gillebaard and Kunkel sale in bulk. 

Soap and other body products are also made with herbs they sell.

”We wanted the best quality and if you start with the raw product you can do anything with it,” Kunkel said. 

”You can make your own tinctures,” she added, explaining that the shop carries books that show you how.

And about 95 percent of everything the shop carries is organic, Kunkel pointed out.

For those wanting to purchase herbs and spices in bulk, the shop has baggies on hand, but customers are also welcome to bring in their own empty spice bottles and jars. 

Just don’t expect to go home with a 10-ounce porterhouse.

Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116 or follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHaynes1.

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Herbal Traditions • WHERE: 7500 Shawnee Road, North Tonawanda • MORE INFORMATION: Call 693-7837 or email • HOURS: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday