Coconut Grove enjoys a reputation for being one of the more eccentric neighborhoods in Miami. A stroll down any one of its major arteries will display an array of international eateries with French, Indian and American cuisine; green parks frequented by dog-lovers and serious runners; boutique shops that display everything from dresses to surf boards; and colorful homes filled with even more colorful characters.
So it's not surprising to find one of Miami's most interesting outposts located deep in the heart of the Grove, a shop that resembles the traveling car of Professor Marvel in The Wizard of Oz.
From the outside, The Olfactory Company crew tout themselves as the "Purveyors of Fine Continental Soaps, Teas, and Oddities." This is accurate but by no means an exhaustive list of all the wonderful that lies within the shop's walls.
The Olfactory Company: a shop that's as varied as it is stunning — Photo courtesy of The Olfactory Company
Lovers of hand-crafted, luxury soaps and shaving supplies will, of course, be pleased to find quality products like Lucky Tiger grooming products for men, Wavertree and London French triple-milled soaps and Plume Botanicals handmade soaps.
These refreshing skin care products are just the tip of the iceberg, though.
Gooseberry and elderflower jam, anyone? — Photo courtesy of The Olfactory Company
Your nose will quickly alert you that there are a number of soy candles from Blythe and Bonny in scents like eucalyptus and jasmine, plus Native American sage wands, fresh lavender bundles and an endless amount of fragrances from brands like Penhaligon. Try their Endymion cologne or the Quercus hand and body cream – a real treat for your skin.
Turn another corner in the shop, and you'll find yourself inundated with more loose-leaf teas and tea products than you'll have time to actually sift through. It's the perfect place to pick up a new kettle (perhaps one with Her Majesty painted on) or maybe just a new London Underground mug in which to brew some Taylors of Harrogate tea.
Magical toys and goodies galore! — Photo courtesy of The Olfactory Company
And if you've brought in little ones, they'll be beside themselves looking through all the unique toys and uncommon candies to choose from.
Kitschy wind-up space aliens, intricately painted babushka chess sets, fluffy cat puppets and a number of beautifully made wooden toys that will certainly please young guests are displayed throughout for eager hands.
Then, of course, there are a number of gag gifts and fun memorabilia items geared toward the young-at-heart.
The truth is this: going to The Olfactory Company is like stepping through something of a steampunk time warp. You won't see iPads or hear any top 40 radio hits. But you will find mustache wax and antique cradle phones to keep you more than occupied.
A steampunk-lover's paradise — Photo courtesy of The Olfactory Company
The Victorian-meets-Americana style of the place really helps to transport you into another era, and it keeps you there while you decide between a container of dried rose buds, an altered vintage collector's plate with gold trim featuring a fluffy cat superimposed on some woman's body, some gourmet sun-dried tomato dip or something called Jack the Ripper Lavatory Mist. (We'll let you figure that one out for yourself.)
The next time you find yourself roaming around Grand Ave or window shopping near Mary Street, take a detour in time to this wonderful, vintage-inspired gift shop to pick up a much-needed jar of gooseberry and elderflower jam. You know you want to try it now!