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Lavender store sprouts on the Plaza

Lavender is a color, a scent, a lovely flower, an herb, a cleansing agent, an antibiotic and literally countless other helpful things — and starting Saturday you can get it at a new store on the Ashland Plaza called Pelindaba Lavender, which is supplied by a grower (a retired doctor) who is wild about lavender and raises vast fields of it in the San Juan Islands.

A store on Ashland’s expensive Plaza devoted to one plant? Yes, it’s right next to Nimbus and it even offers lavender shampoo, lavender massage oil, lavender tea, lavender mustard, lavender body wash, lavender shaving gel, lavender hydrosol spray, lavender hand sanitizer, lavender spritzer, lavender dog biscuits and, if those don’t do the trick, there’s always lavender ice cream.

The shop replaces long-standing Optical Expressions, whose owner, optometrist Kenneth Ehlers, after many decades on the spot, moved his practice to Lassman's Fine Eyewear at 530 Crater Lake Ave. in Medford.

The shop is Brittany Beugli’s first venture into ownership of a retail shop and, while admitting it’s a bit scary, says she’s been in the Valley a dozen years, has made many new and supportive friends in getting the store together and plans to make it “a fun place, with a party atmosphere, for residents, families, tourists,” where people can learn the advantages of this plant that once was a major part of everyday life.

All of her products are created by Dr. Stephen Robbins, who licenses such stores around the country (14 in seven states), she says, and has a passion for using their natural properties for better health. Her brother Bradley Smith is manager.

“Lavender is known for its anti-bacterial and healing properties, as well as its culinary uses. It’s a natural insect repellent and cleaning product,” says Beugli, noting that, during the Black Plague, people who removed bodies wore sachets of it around their necks to keep from getting the disease. That, she says, is because it repelled fleas that carried the bug.

The store sells seeds and information on starting a lavender garden and Beugli advises that it’s a good deer repellent, something that should be welcome in this deer-centric town.

Around the store, you will find displays of lavender insect repellent, essential oils, lavender castile soap (made with olive oil and OK for infants), and lavender bath salts, which are “mentally soothing, muscle relaxing and fragrant” and contain sea salt.

A personal care collection offers lavender bubble bath, massage oil, candles, castile soap, lip balm and, to top it off, lavender coffee and lavender dark chocolate bar.

Similar products are assembled for dogs and horses and are labeled calming, with gourmet treats included. You can also find a lavender-stuffed bunny for kids to play with — and get health benefits from.

Beugli, a native of Seattle, has lived in Ashland, Medford, Eagle Point and worked in the home furnishings and pharmaceuticals business, she says. She chose Ashland for the shop because “it seems a happy, fun place where people are about the right things I think I might stand outside and offer to spritz people, then invite them in to sit down and relax and learn about the products.”

She takes especial pride in lavender-based jewelry, which is shaped like the lavender bud, contains natural amethyst and made of porous volcanic rock so it can absorb the magic of the plant and be releasing it all day.

Robbins named the line of products Pelindaba from the Zulu, which means “the place of great gathering,” she says. The store has its grand opening Saturday, July 21. Its web page is at www.pelindabalavender.com/ashland-or-a/309.htm.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

(Aug. 20: Story updated to correct information about optometrist Kenneth Ehlers; he did not retire as originally stated, but rather moved his practice to Medford.)

A Pelindaba Lavender store is opening in downtown Ashland. Daily Tidings / Jamie Lusch
Brittany Pelindaba, owner of Pelindaba Lavender in downtown Ashland. Daily Tidings / Jamie Lusch