The Herbal Soap N Salves store is Daniel L. Smith’s — or Dan the Soap Man’s —  brainchild and dream 

Daniel L. Smith is the owner of Herbal Soap N Salves in the Third Street Lifestyle Center in Wausau. The business opened in August after years of Smith making soaps at home and he is loving the experience of a storefront so far. 

By Evan J. Pretzer

If you are looking for a natural product for your body or the chance to learn a new skill, Herbal Soap N Salves has what you need in the Third Street Lifestyle Center.

The business, whivch opened in August, is the brainchild of Daniel L. Smith. Smith grew up in Rothschild. He was picked by his classmates to be one of the least likely to succeed after high school. Smith has been making soap at home since 2008 and says his storefront in downtown Wausau came out of some exhaustion.

“I always wanted a store even when I was a little kid,” he says. “It was a childhood dream. You don’t intend to act on it, but I got so tired of working for others I decided to work for myself. I have a no [bullsh*t] policy. I do not put up with a lot of stuff and do not like to waste any time.”

As a result of this sentiment, Smith was able to quickly find his space on the first floor of the building, in a space that formerly housed the Center for the Visual Arts gift shop. He started looking in February after quitting his job at Pick ‘n Save last year, signed a deal in May and has just scratched his work’s surface.

“I can make 3,200 different products. The store is now so small we cannot host or put out 3,200, it won’t work,” Smith adds. “What you see right now is the tip of the iceberg and maybe we have not even hit the tip yet. I have a candlemaker, we are going to get some candles made and everything in here gets refurbished and reused, too. Bottles get washed out, there is no waste.”

Products out and available for purchase now include beard oils and Smith’s popular lemongrass soap. While many not familiar with artisanal hygiene products may believe they only are for cleaning the body, Smith says these can do much more than a commercial soap such as Dove.

“All here is multipurpose, not one item is just one thing,” he says. “You can use soap for shampoo, you can shave with it and some can be used for a bug bar. Lots of different things.”

Right now, products are coming in, sales are growing and word of mouth is spreading about the soap man. Smith allows those who come in to get hands-on experience helping him make bars and show them how their health can improved thanks to natural ingredients. He loves his place, and, in the future, Smith wants to take this vibe and give it back to some of the most vulnerable in the community.

“I want to employ veterans and people with special needs,” Smith adds. “Maybe take some homeless people and give them the chance to live. This is something no place offers. People see the homeless and think ‘get away from me, stop begging.’ Maybe people who are begging want to work. I don’t put people in categories. I want to bring back the sense of old-fashioned stores now gone where people can be friendly with one another and there are not any anger issues.”  

Herbal Soap N Salves is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sundays generally but open for special events. More is on the Herbal Soap N Salves, LLC Facebook page and those interested in reaching out to Smith by phone can call 715-298-1483.

Evan J. Pretzer is a contributor to City Pages. He can be reached at [email protected].