Business

Tea for two

Four-year-old Chloe Foster (left), in a Cinderella dress, and Adele Daniels, dressed as Belle, play with the dollhouse at Storybook Tea & Boutique, which opened last month in Manette.  - Rachel Brant/staff photo
Four-year-old Chloe Foster (left), in a Cinderella dress, and Adele Daniels, dressed as Belle, play with the dollhouse at Storybook Tea & Boutique, which opened last month in Manette.
— image credit: Rachel Brant/staff photo

Storybook Tea serves up tea and playtime for children ages 3-10.

Wendy Daniels hosted a tea party for her daughter’s fourth birthday.

Now, the mother of two hosts tea parties for a living.

Daniels opened Storybook Tea & Boutique in Manette in early December and little girls and boys continue to stop in for a spot of tea and cookies.

“Since the beginning of January we’ve been doing pretty good,” she said.

While Daniels’ 4-year-old daughter, Adele, has always enjoyed tea parties, it wasn’t until Daniels put together a party for Adele and her mother-in-law that she realized how meaningful tea parties can be.

“I knew it was special, but I didn’t realize how special,” Daniels said with tears welling in her eyes. “It’s such a bonding experience.”

After that, Daniels knew she had to open a Victorian tea and playroom.

Storybook Tea & Boutique offers tea parties for children throughout the week, complete with a wide variety of teas and snacks.

“Fruit teas are really popular with the kids,” Daniels said.

Children also use real china during the tea parties.

“We use real china for the kids so they feel special,” Daniels said.

“Imagine with Me” tea parties are on Sundays and children can bring a special friend, like a parent or grandparent, to take part in the get-together.

Children also can play with porcelain dolls, dollhouses, a puppet theater and wooden castles. Children can even dress up in costumes while they play at Storybook Tea & Boutique.

“They get to choose whatever they want to wear,” Daniels said. “We like to leave it open.”

Storybook Tea & Boutique also offers story times and will host birthday parties for children. Daniels said birthday parties should be booked at least three months in advance.

“(Parents) just bring in the cake and whatever else,” Daniels said. “I think with birthday parties people want something more special for them.”

While the real china and porcelain dolls are breakable, Daniels said the children are free to play with whatever they like at Storybook Tea & Boutique.

“It’s all about the kids,” Daniels said. “We keep the restrictions down.”

Daniels said many children walk into the Manette shop “completely wide-eyed” and ready to play.

“It’s just like coming into a dream for them,” she said. “They come in and they immediately start playing.”

While Storybook Tea & Boutique seems like it’s geared toward girls, Daniels said boys love the shop too. She said a lot of boys love playing with the large Victorian dollhouse in the playroom.

“I know it’s really girly, but the boys don’t mind it,” she said. “We just want the kids to have a good time.”

Storybook Tea & Boutique also sells the products used inside the small business. Daniels sells puzzles, toys, tea sets, machine washable costumes and Melissa & Doug wooden toys.

“We keep everything really affordable because we want them to come back,” she said.

Daniels said tea parties and parties in general can be costly, so Storybook Tea & Boutique is a great option for parents because it is affordable and parents don’t have to clean up a thing.

“Parents like it because they can kind of relax and chat with one another,” she said.

Daniels said she knows it was a risk to open a small business, but she’s happy because parents and children can benefit from a tea party.

“It was a risk, obviously, but I believe in my heart it’s what people need,” she said.

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