Monthly Archives: March 2017

History Of Attar Herbs and Spices

Attar Spice Shop

It is times like these, when considering 50 years of business that one can feel overcome with a sense of awe, generosity and pride for our loyal customers who have been with us for so long through so many inevitable changes that a business of this age will endure. As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, “change is the only constant”. For our long-term customers who have chosen to stand by us and support our vision over the years, through our falls and climbs, we are ever grateful. To our new customers, welcome. We are thrilled to have you here as part of the Spice Up Life community and look forward to many more years to come all together!

The Roots of Attar
According to Dick Martin developing the roots of Attar began early in his young adult life. As a graduate of Harvard with a degree in botany, Dick did his research on the uses of plants (ethnobotany) and studied how the American Indians used them. Dick says, “I traveled a lot in South America, looking for plants for research for the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. I would collect samples and send them up there for analysis. I would find out a little bit from the Indians what they used them for.”

If you knew Dick Martin well, you’d know that plants were only one of his passions. He collected coins, was a gifted musician and spoke Japanese. A few years back I was introduced to a book called, One River by Wade Davis which recounted some of the Amazonian expeditions that Dick was a member of as a young student. There is even reference to Dick Martin bringing along his saxophone on the trips and joining with the locals for nights of music making and revelry.

Dick Martin

Dick explained, “Attar means perfumed in Persian. It comes from a word that means essence. It’s anything that has a fragrance, a taste or a smell.” Attar then became the name he gave his herb, spice and essential oil company when he opened its doors 50 years ago.
His very first office was in Harvard Square. It really was only a suitcase from which he sold his herbs and spices…and the business continued to grow. He then opened a health food store in Cambridge Mass. Eventually, he moved the business to New Ipswich, New Hampshire (Smithville) where it was in operation serving customers around the country for over 40 years until his retirement. Melissa Spencer and Erik Hood of Harrisville NH, purchased the business in 2010 and moved it to Harrisville.

Attar Herbs and Spices Catalog

Attar Herbs and Spices Catalog

In the Fall of 2010 my husband and I walked into this quaint little shop called Attar Herbs & Spices. We fell in love at first smell. When we walked out we realized we had just met our destiny. A month later we were signing papers to purchase the business from Dick Martin. It has been an incredible journey these past 7 years learning the ins and outs of what it takes to grow a business and grow a family, at the same time. We are blessed with an incredibly supportive and hands-on family, family-like customers and an uber-talented and skilled staff.