While attending UC Santa Barbara in the late 70s as an anthropology major, Tierney Salter found herself with a particularly bad asthma attack. After her roommate suggested that a plant called horehound could help relieve her constant coughing, Salter found herself at a local herb store.
“I went and got some of this herb, made a tea, drank it, and didn’t cough all night,” said Salter. “After growing up with western medicine as my crutch, this opened up a whole new world to me, and I became obsessed with the study of it.”
Salter is now bringing The Herbalist to Capitol Hill, with a new location in the 19th and Mercer building set to open at the end of May. Aside from bringing Salter back to her home neighborhood, Salter believes that the new location will provide for a new type of store devoted to educating people about how herbal remedies can help supplement or even completely replace traditional pharmaceuticals.
“I grew up on Capitol Hill, and I love Capitol Hill,” Salter said. “I’m kind of going back to my roots here, which I’m really excited about. I’m there with a lot of other women business owners, and it’s very exciting.”
Salter said the new shop will be “a new kind of concept pharmacy.”
“I’m all about integrating nature with pharmaceuticals, since some people do need pharmaceuticals, but you can certainly use herbs along with them to get healthy,” she said. “So the new location will be a very interactive, educational experience, where we give the people the information they need to make their own choices. That’s our vision for this new location.”
The new Herbalist shop joins a bustling community of businesses in the 19th and Mercer development. It seems to be an especially good fit with neighbor Cone & Steiner, the Capitol Hill-style neighborhood mercantile and grocery store. Meanwhile, hopefully shoppers wandering by won’t be too disappointed to find out The Herbalist isn’t a new I-502 retail marijuana shop.
The Herbalist Capitol Hill also joins some other notable dispensers of natural and herbal remedies in the neighborhood. Rainbow Remedies has been serving 15th Ave E for decades. In Pike/Pine, Rainbow-alum Karyn Schwartz has created a one of a kind shopping experience with her SugarPill apothecary.
From that first moment as a student in a 1970s herb store, Salter says she devoted her life to the study of herbal remedies, and enrolled in the College of Natural Medicine in Santa Fe studying clinical herbology for two years. Upon returning to Seattle after graduating, Salter found herself with a wealth of knowledge, but nowhere to put it to use.
“There was no place in Seattle at the time to get any organic or wildly harvested herbs, and someone suggested that I opened up my own herb store,” Salter said. “But I had no idea how at the time, I was just 25 years-old, but I started it anyways.”
Despite her tredpitation, Salter founded The Herbalist in 1984, a store devoted to not only selling herbal remedies to people looking for alternatives to traditional medicine, but also making it themselves. In the 30 years since, the store has become a staple of Ravenna, and now boasts over 400 products produced in-house. According to Salter, the key to her business’s growth boils down to one factor: quality.
“What my teacher taught us always was that you have to have the good quality, or else it doesn’t matter what the book says about the herbs, it’s not going to do what it said.” Salter said.
“You need good quality for the good product for the good results. That knowledge has been embedded in me since I started, and while I’m sure you could make more money with lower quality, that’s not what we’re about.”
She said that, like the local food movement, local herbs are important, too.
“It’s the difference between going to a farmer’s market and getting your carrots there or going to a big grocery store and buying some that came from Chile,” she said. “We source a lot of our herbs from the northwest, we get them fresh, and we immediately process them. The quality is there, and I think that’s why we’ve been around for so long.”
While a devotion to using fresh, locally-sourced herbs for her products has assured quality, Salter also believes that having a place to go and speak with an expert in the field has kept The Herbalist successful in the age of online commerce.
“I think there’s so much misinformation online, and being able to go to a trusted source where you can rely on the quality of the ingredients is a big thing,” said Salter. “There’s so many products out there now, and for the general public, it’s really hard to know what is the best product for them. Whatever ails you, you can come in and we can help assist people in getting educated on what might work well for them.”
You can learn more at theherbalist.com.