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It makes scents: China Grove store sells soaps, lotions and more

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post

CHINA GROVE — Everyone knows that Farmers Day is the hottest ticket in town, which is why Brent and Beth Engelhardt opened their new business on the day of the annual festival.

Old Town Soap Co. now occupies the freestanding building at 113 S. Main St., next door to Brooke & Brooke Attorneys. Beth has created a wide selection of soaps, lotions, candles and more.

The Engelhardts named their business after the Old West-style chicken coop they built at their Kannapolis home (that’s another story), and renovated the building to create a vintage appearance. That included taking up all the plywood, carpet and linoleum, and stripping and refinishing the warm pine floors.

“I know this floor intimately,” Beth says, smiling.

Salvaged doors were fashioned into the back counter, and discarded fencing and pallets became the back wall.

“It really was a lot of fun doing it all,” Beth says.

She admits that Farmers Day was a crazy day.

“My husband was bound and determined to be open for Farmers Day,” she says. “He wanted the traffic.”

They’d worked on the business for two months straight before opening day, she adds.

Beth learned to make soap when she worked in retail, and wanted to make Christmas gifts for her co-workers.

“I took a class, and it just kinda went from there,” she says.

Beth has developed a whole line of soaps, lotions, body sprays, bath salts, lotion candles, solid lotion bars and roll-ups, lip balms and more. There’s even a men’s line featuring beard oils and mustache wax, along with soap in manly fragrances.

“It’s not all girls’ stuff,” Beth says.

She develops fragrances based on customer input. She has a seemingly endless list of enticing smells, which include everything from baby powder to green tea and cucumber to lavender to orange. Whether it’s floral or fruit, fresh or musky, you can find it here.

The bar soaps are topped with a sprinkling of glitter, and come in such fun names as Choco Latte Bliss, Autumn Magic, Midnight Pomegranate and Oh So Clean. Even something called Witches Brew, although Beth notes you have to like patchouli. They lather up well and rinse squeaky clean.

Beth and Brent had been working local festivals, including Jiggy Jam and Kaleidoscope, both in Kannapolis, when they happened across the building in China Grove for rent.

Nine years ago, the couple and their children moved here from California, lured by the fact that family lives nearby.

They raise chickens, turkeys and miniature horses at Shady Creek Hollow Farm in Kannapolis. When Beth is not at the shop, she’s making soaps and other goodies, including ceramic beads, which are also sold at the store.

The family is enjoying having a bit more room to roam, as opposed to being on a “postage stamp-size” lot in California, Beth says.

“Everybody is so friendly,” Beth says. “We like the slower pace.”

Being in Downtown China Grove, Beth says, “is very nice. All the other businesses are so supportive. Everybody wants to see it work out.”

“She’s got a beautiful shop,” says Tilda Corriher, who owns Corriher Springs Flower Shop across the street. “There’s lots of variety, and it smells so wonderful when you walk in.”

“We are delighted to have Beth’s beautiful store in the downtown, and we hope she prospers here for a long time,” Carole Brooke.

Beth says the business is a bit seasonal, the busiest times of year being Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Old Town Soap Co. is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Its grand opening is Nov. 14.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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