New Milford herbal business expands into retail
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, April 2, 2017
NEW MILFORD — The customers asked and Twin Star Community Apothecary delivered.
Owner Lupo Passero has run an herbal education business in the area for 10 years, but last month she opened her first retail location to complement the courses she offers. The store at 57 Bank St. is located a few doors away from Twin Star Herbal Education, Passero’s downtown studio at which she holds classes.
“We expanded because of customer demand more than anything,” Passero said. “I had some products I would offer as part of the courses, but people caught wind that I had these herbs and started showing up at the studio. We knew we needed to open a storefront.”
The new retail location, at the former site of Tonios Panino sandwich shop, is about 1,000 square feet. Twin Star Community Apothecary offers products such as herbal teas, tinctures (extracts), salves, oils, candles, rubs and herbal first-aid kits. It also sells aromatherapy products, spiritual jewelry, healing stones, dreamcatchers and even herbal phone cases featuring pressed flowers.
“We try to be as holistic as possible, but we’re most known for our bulk medicinal herbs,” Passero said. “People come in and say: ‘This is going on with me. What can I take for it?’ ”
Many of the herbs used in the teas and other products are locally harvested. Taraxacum (dandelion) and echinacea (coneflower) are examples of medicinal plants that grow in the area.
“We harvest a lot ourselves, but do it sustainably and ethically,” Passero said. “A lot of the weeds that grow around here are medicinal.”
Passero sees it as a return to how pharmacies used to be in the not-too-distant past. She said the phasing out of herbal medicines started only about 100 years ago.
“We’ve been evolving with plants for 10,000 years. It’s been our means of survival,” Passero said. “It’s only recently that we’ve lost our lineage, but the resurgence is happening. It’s really about empowering people to take care of themselves with everyday stuff.”
Kevin Bielmeier, New Milford’s economic development director, said Twin Star’s expansion is a welcome addition to the changing New Milford downtown area.
“The growing success of Twin Star is proof that a collaborative, community-minded operation with a unique blend of services and retail not only can work — it can thrive,” he said. “Their prominent new space adds an eclectic touch to our distinct downtown.”
The space on Bank Street became available when Tonio’s Panino expanded and moved upstairs from its former location. Passero and her business partner, Tina Hartzell, jumped at the chance to move in.
“We’ve had our eye on this space for a long time. It’s the perfect space,” Passero said. “It worked out really nicely. Tina and I came in together and created this apothecary. She’s responsible for a lot of what you see.”
The expansion of the business included an update of its website, which may be found at twinstartribe.com.
Each month Twin Star Community Apothecary will use a portion of the proceeds from certain products to donate to causes. This month’s cause is helping people involved with the protests of the Standing Rock oil pipeline. The business has made donations to a local women’s shelter and causes in Haiti and Uganda.
“We try to give back as much as we can because we are so privileged to live in this country. We are so lucky to have an education and be able to choose how we want to live,” Passero said. “This work would be considered witchcraft or men’s work in other places. A lot of our energy goes to empowering women and girls in other countries, and our own country.”
Passero sells products from other local vendors, including some of her current and past students.
“This all started as a hobby, and it turned into a passion,” said Passero, who has been studying and teaching about herbs for more than 20 years, “and I haven’t stopped talking about it since.”