One Day in Budapest

Many years ago, we were traveling throughout Eastern Europe. One day while in Budapest we found an interesting shop with a window display of glowing Himalayan salt and wandered in to see more. The store was unlike anything we had ever seen. Beautiful Himalayan salt tiles covered the walls and glowed from the lights behind them. The store sold tables made of wood and decorated with beautiful inlaid salt tiles as well as health products made with salt as the key ingredient. They even had entire rooms lined in glowing Himalayan salt where people breathed a salt mist to improve their lung function. It was our first experience seeing salt used in so many unique ways.

Later we traveled to Salzburg, Austria, to visit their medieval salt mines and learn a little more about salt. We went sightseeing in town and found a wonderful little store called Salz (German for ‘salt’). Inside was a beautiful shop that sold many of the Himalayan salt products we’d seen in Budapest including a variety of health and skin products made from salt. The backlit salt walls were elegant and beautiful.

The next day we traveled to the Berchtesgaden salt mine in the Bavarian Alps. Donning worker coveralls, we toured the deep salt mine for hours and learned that salt miners, unlike other miners, rarely had lung infections or respiratory problems because the salt particles they inhaled effectively fought bacteria.

On the plane home we wondered if we could open a store dedicated to a rock that was best known in the US for melting icy roads and causing hypertension? We agreed that a new kind of store that would capture the elegance and beauty of the many mysterious places we had seen, would be unique and offer something special. We decided to start a store to educate and celebrate the many benefits of this much-misunderstood mineral: salt.

We sourced more than 50 gourmet finishing salts; beautiful Himalayan salt blocks for food preparation and other uses; dozens of imported Dead Sea salt-based bath and body products; healing salts for the airways, skin and sinus; as well as salted confections like salted caramels and salted chocolates for our new shop.

We began to search a number of towns up the east coast from New York City to Portland, Maine and finally settled on the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. With a population of around 20,000 that swelled to 80,000 on many weekends it had everything we were looking for to prove that our new concept would work.

We rushed to open for the holiday season after relocating from Long Island, NY, just 30 days earlier. The first Salt Cellar opened on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2011 without even an outdoor sign. Thanks to word of mouth and some great coverage of the store in local media, the store was an instant success. Since then we have opened two more stores and fulfilled hundreds of thousands of online orders to our loyal salt-loving customers.