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New antique boutique and coffee, tea and beauty bar opens

AMHERST – Etagere at 114 Route 101A houses a bevy of period piece boxes, unique kitchen and household items and other retro, vintage and antique wares. Every nook and corner beckons the human eye.

Owners and mother and daughter duo Joy and Brook Martello had their official opening in Oct. 2020 but have been gaining momentum since then.

Etagere specializes in “high tea,” where the word “high” implies a very sturdy meal. “Low tea” originally designated women seated at a low table where they might enjoy tea and light pastries and finger sandwiches.

“If we were to say we serve ‘low tea’ and people look at the price, people wouldn’t understand what they’re actually getting,” Joy Martello said. “You have to go high.”

It’s not Americanized though, Joy pointed out. “It’s evolved.”

“High tea just sounds better,” Joy said. “It sounds more posh. What we’ve done is taken our interpretation, based on places in Europe that I visited, and I said, ‘this is what we want to do.'”

Etagere offers one high tea seating a day at 1 p.m. They have recently added the concept of “elevenses,” which is an Australian with a bit of Welsh and Irish thrown in. “Elevenses” by definition, is a short break with light refreshments, usually served with tea and coffee, served at 11 a.m.

“It’s a midmorning tea,” Joy explained. “Normally served with various meats and cheeses, like a charcuterie board and a couple of breakfast pastries as well. We’re adding that in the next week.”

The Martellos are finding that more people are coming into the shop in the morning and “elevenses” will not require reservations. The antique/eatery also offers housemade quiche daily.

As for how the Martellos describe “Etagere,” Brook called it an “eclectic boutique.”

“Ironically, it was the hardest thing to describe before we opened,” Brook said. “Even with friends and family, they would say, ‘I don’t get it.’ And our response would be, ‘Wait until it opens. You’ll see.'”

Brook’s background is in the beauty industry, while Joy is a pastry chef and former restaurant owner. Together, they both enjoy antiques, home décor and shopping.

“I say it’s essentially three businesses under one roof,” Joy added. “We wanted people to be able to walk into the shop and we look at it as more of an experience. We wanted people to be drawn into this place instead of a shop that you just stop in to get one thing and leave. Because we’ve made it multi-faceted, we wanted it to be a place where people can come in and enjoy themselves.”

The biggest takeaway, according to Joy, was that if she was to return to work, she wanted to enjoy herself.

“I began collecting antiques in the ’70s,” Joy said. “It’s now time for me to start de-investing. So, that was one of the reasons that we put antiques in.”

Joy also has a considerable collection of antique boxes. The two explained the difference between retro, vintage and antique collectibles.

“There is retro, which is anything outside of twenty years old,” Brook said. “Vintage is anything outside of 50 years old; and antique is anything outside of 100 years old.”

As Etagere opened during the pandemic, they were actually ready to open earlier but thrown a COVID curveball.

“We had to open,” Brook said. “We were ready. We had to. We were already here. And we had rent to pay.”

Joy said it wasn’t that bad and went as far as to say, it was a positive thing.

“Thank goodness we opened when we did,” Joy said. “That way we were able to open up a little bit more slow and we were able to make mistakes and change a few things.”

The hardest thing has been trying to find staff, as the stimulus checks and unemployment checks have kept workers away.

“But we did find some good people,” Joy said. “Business has grown steadily and at the end of the day, we did okay.”

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