It is 5:45 pm and I am hoping that it is still Tea Time in AuSable Forks. I have been trying to make it to this eclectic little antique shop for some time now (it opened in the spring of 2013) and though it keeps regular hours (3 pm to 6pm daily) my schedule has not accommodated for tea time lately.
I know the owners, Karla Oehler and Bill Berkmann, from their other business ventures in AuSable Forks—a used book shop and an art store gallery. I have always admired their establishments, but never so much as Tea Time Antiques.
First of all, there is always an option to take tea. Second, Karla and Bill are among the friendliest people I have ever met. So tea with these admittedly "people people" is a no-brainer.
Everything about the store is artistically done—from the presentation of the inventory to the music that creates a gentle background for easy conversation.
Karla is a font of knowledge and when I ask her why this place has been called part museum, part gallery, she admits to me that they are working toward a collection for a future museum which is why some of the merchandise is not for sale. She leads me to a Native American blanket with a black swastika front and center and explains what this mark symbolized before it became a Nazi symbol. She shows me a lovely card and poker chips (also pre-Nazi) and we talk about how Hitler chose an image that people were comfortable with and turned it into something hideous.
There are so many pieces that speak history here: a milk bottle from Rockwell Kent’s Asgaard Farm, a bear skull and dolphin bone, your mother’s and grandmother’s Nancy Drew books, and even an original sculpture from Easter Island. Karla explains that she "found" the sculpture and didn’t even realize what she had. She shows me a Metropolitan Museum catalog (which she smilingly says cost her more than the sculpture) and there is the same little man behind the glass.
The owners are proud to be renting space from a non-for-profit (the Appleby Foundation which supports the Tahawus Learning Center) and have strong feelings about making AuSable Forks a destination. The town has come a long way with a functioning movie theatre, a pizza restaurant that often has live entertainment, another year-round antique store (open on weekends), a couple of thrift stores and, of course, the Tahawus Learning Center itself run by Rebecca Kelly and Craig Brashear.
It is now sometime after 6:30 pm and Bill assures me that they don’t care if someone walks in at 5:55 pm as long as they are through the threshold before closing, they will always feel welcome and be well taken care of. He says, “You never know who you’re gonna meet or who’s gonna walk into the shop.”
In fact, Karla tells me they will be open late this Saturday for the tree lighting in AuSable Forks which will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6 pm.
If you are in the area at tea time—between 3 pm and 6 pm—it’s well worth stopping in for tea, browse the shop, and talk art with Bill and Karla.
For more events in the Whiteface Region this holiday season click through to the web site.
Kathleen Recchia has been enjoying the arts in the Adirondack for about 20 years—both as observer and participant (acting, directing, and producing). She also enjoys cross-country skiing, swimming, juggling, and hosting visitors to the area at her bed & breakfast in Jay.