There's a secret tucked among the lace and linens, the china and glass, the old-fashioned dolls and soft sculptures displayed at the Victorian Connection in Kennewick.
Slip by the shelves of breakables to the back room and you will find an intimate tea shop run by the store's proprietress, Isolyn Knopik of Kennewick.
"If you sell tea pots and cups, you need to sell what goes into them," she said, explaining that selling teas, especially loose teas, was a natural extension of her business.
"Then, of course, you need to have the sugar tongs, creamers and sugar bowls, the tea infusers, the pretty napkins, the fancy tea spoons, everything that goes along with it including preserves and English curds," she said, gesturing around her shop. "And if I don't have it, I can get it."
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Knopik opened Victorian Connection in 1993 in a room in the home she shares with her husband, Simon. She quickly outgrew the space and moved to the Stafford Mini Mall on Highway 395 in Kennewick, then to an A-frame building on Kennewick Avenue and, in 1998, to her present location -- 108 Vista Way in Kennewick.
Knopik said her gift shop grew out of her love of the Victorian era and all things tea. She also was born in Jamaica, which was once a British colony.
"We kept a lot of their customs, afternoon tea was one of them," she said in her softly accented English.
So when Knopik noticed in 2003 that tea shops were becoming popular, she decided to test the trend.
According to an online directory at teamap.com, the Tri-Cities boasts two other tea rooms -- the Victorian Tea Garden in Richland and For Heaven's Sake Teas in Kennewick. Badger Canyon Herb & Tea in Kennewick sells loose tea and closed its tea room a few months ago.
Knopik cleared enough space in her back room to add several tables and chairs, enough to seat up to 18. Knopik didn't have to decorate the room; the linens, paintings, china and other gift items are still there, just moved aside.
"So they have lots of pretty things to look at while they enjoy their tea. My intent was to make an enchanting atmosphere," she said.
The teas are popular with groups for bridal and baby showers, grandmoms' birthdays and children's birthdays.
"You'd be surprised how the young ones sit and behave," Knopik said.
Knopik serves tea by reservation only, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Reservations for up to four need to be made two days in advance and larger groups require four days notice. Cost is $15 per person and includes a choice of more than 70 teas and goodies to nibble.
Victorian Connection is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Phone: 783-3618.