By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Aug 03, 2008 at 5:29 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

Ritz Camera has closed and Linens 'N Things is on its way out, but there are signs of new life inside the Shops of Grand Avenue. Scented Garden, a bath and body shop with custom blending bar, opened May 17 in the New Arcade section of the mall.Owner Angela Amos -- known to friends and family as "the perfume lady" -- is an aroma aficionado home-schooled in nature's fragrant bouquet, and her shop is as close as you might come to a botanical garden in Downtown Milwaukee.

Her craft began with "Sugar Baby," a 100 percent organic brown sugar body scrub made with sweet almond, apricot and sunflower oils, that she starting making and selling out of her home five years ago. It was an instant hit.

Today, "Sugar Baby" sits prominently on display, complete with sample, as a centerpiece for Scented Garden.

"I make few other products as well," she says, referencing her bath salts, a relaxing combination of Dead Sea salts, fragrance oils and botanical infusions from peppermint leaves, rose petals, lavender buds and chamomile. "The rest of the inventory comes from companies I've worked with and trusted for years."

Indigo Wild, for example, makes all natural, organic lavender products for babies -- known as its "Wee" line -- such as gentle soaps and lotions made from shae butter and sea foam.

Other store shelves radiate redolence in all its forms. Her fragrance gems -- little balls infused with fragranced essential oils in sachets -- are used in drawers and closets as an air-fresheners; the glycerin soaps come in vanilla, coconut, lemon sugar and mango; the vitamin lotions replenish the skin every which way.

But the store's most unique feature, and main focus, is Amos's custom blending bar. To start, customers choose from an array of unscented products: body lotion, vitamin lotion, shave gel, after-shave balm, massage lotion, bath and body oil, body spray, shower gel and body mist or bath salts. They then select a fragrance to add, which run the gamut from honeysuckle to Cool Water to Paris Hilton.

"It's really reasonable because you are getting floral types, fruity types, designer types and our prices start at $3.50 and go up to $10.50 -- you can't beat that for an 8-oz. bottle of product," says Amos. "We blend it, shake it up, put a label on it and send it home with them."

Adjacent to the blending bar is a home section, made up of reed diffusers, various herbal Octavia Teas and 100 percent soy candles that come with flakes of sandalwood, frankincense, almond, rosemary and mint. Her tip: Use the melted soy wax on your skin as a natural moisturizer.

"The store is based on relaxation and taking care of yourself," she says. "We try to incorporate everything for the body and for the home."

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”