Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe


Be a part of "TeaRetailer" history in the making.

Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Charles » Dec 7th, '09, 13:24

I've written a piece explaining the logic behind Adagio's strategy for a new Tea Retail shop and would love to get feedback from the TeaChat community. (http://www.tearetailer.com/article_19.html)
User avatar
Charles
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Oct 12th, '
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby tlm0000 » Dec 7th, '09, 14:30

I love the idea of starting a new business. I'm very opinionated, and I also love to notice things, so when I got into a new business it takes everything I have not to tell them what they're doing wrong. :)

We've only had two tea shops that I'm aware of in our area, though we do have a couple of tea houses. Very dainty, and catering to a specific image. The last tea shop I was in was fussy and claustrophobic! 1000 little teapots scattered around and you're afraid to turn too quickly with a big purse, but that's not what stopped me from coming back. What stopped me from coming back was the tea storage.
They had walls and walls of bins of tea. Smelled lovely, but all I kept thinking was how can they possibly sell enough of each one of those teas to go through any kind of stock rotation. I'm sure the tea was fine, but it's all about perception.

I think if you sell the small size tins of tea that is also a huge plus. They're such a fantastic way to try new things, and really, just fun!

Wheewww! I've been wanting to say that for a week! Glad I finally registered.
tlm0000
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 7th, '0

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Janine » Dec 7th, '09, 15:54

I replied in the other thread, so I will re-post here:


Ah, I didn't understand you meant this to be a strictly retail shop. In that case I have the following suggestions:

Teance (Berkeley, CA) has a tea bar. I'd have minimal seating (so you don't need to install special bathrooms if you wish to avoid this expense)... I think Teance's bar seats 6 but I'm not sure. The point of the bar is so that people can taste, and also you can organize tastings -- or they can just offer certain teas the owner decides on in a roster all day long. You could take reservations for this or let people walk in the door or both. Either way, I think it's to a great advantage to let people taste teas. I'd also organize formal tastings of groups of tea to introduce people to tea.

After all, I've no doubt the more time a customer spends in the store, the more money they're likely to spend.

Knowledgeable sales reps are a must - to show teaware and talk about teas. Politeness is mandatory. Need I say stick to the hours posted. I'd still offer minimal tea snacks to go - this requires no cooking if you get, say, traditional Chinese tea snacks or packaged cookies that people can buy to go with the tea or as part of a gift package. And I'd still go with books on tea, and teaware. But you'd know the profit margin better than I.

Perhaps in this kind of set up decor will set the tone and mood and if fairly essential in addition to customer service. What kind of decor do you plan?

ADDITION TO OTHER POST: Where do you plan to open this shop? Big city? Smaller town? Or do you want perhaps a franchise or chain? Then you need to address the question of standardization and that would apply to inventory and/or decor... you could standardize inventory and make decor unique, would be rather interesting and maybe spark people to visit
User avatar
Janine
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Nov 3rd, '0

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Janine » Dec 7th, '09, 15:56

PS I'd still have special prices for tasting. Suppose I want to taste 3 puerh you carry? Or all the varieties of keemun? Or whatever new Taiwan oolongs a harvest season brought in? You could have a price for tasting one tea, another for three, etc.
User avatar
Janine
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Nov 3rd, '0

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Victoria » Dec 7th, '09, 16:01

With the phenom of a Starbucks on every corner and some in between,
this seems to be to be the most lucrative suggestion. The Starbucks of Tea.

I'd love to see that happen. Even if it meant putting loose leaf tea in t-saks or fillable bags.

I don't feel customer blending will work in a store and as you said will be messy. It works online, because well, it is online. You get a certain amount of notoriety and gratification and of course the points. Besides, in a store, you could do it anyway, without the fuss. Just say, make that half this and half that. Not that most would anyway. And hopefully we are steering away from foo-foo and concentrating on quality leaf.

Of course thinking out loud here, I guess they really took off when adding the specialty foo-foo drinks with sugar and whatever. Still they did pretty well when it was just coffee and pastries. Right?
User avatar
Victoria
 
Posts: 8186
Joined: Jan 8th, '0
Location: Southern CA

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Charles » Dec 8th, '09, 10:22

Thanks for the feedback. We're actually hoping to allow "professional style" comparison cuppings free of charge (using the porcelain cupping sets http://www.adagio.com/teaware/tasting_set.html). I figure there are a lot of people that will abuse a free offer, but most of them are not going to take 10 minutes to comparison cup 3 Pu-erhs or a half dozen Darjeelings. Tea people, on the other hand, will love the experience and will hopefully reward us with their business.

As for decor and target location... I know all of that matters, but my hope is that a shop focused on the leaf will transcend location and decor. Nature is beautiful and doesn't need much by way of additional adornment.

In my thinking, any artificial hook (like awesome decor) will bring people through the doors, and will bring them back with their friends and family, but won't necessarily lead to higher sales or loyal customers. Even a great sensory experience won't be much more than a temporary help if it doesn't translate to people's everyday life and love of tea.

After leaving the Adagio Retail Store I don't want people to say "Wow, that was an awesome store", or even "I love Adagio". I want them to say "I love tea and can't wait to get home and drink this stuff!"
User avatar
Charles
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Oct 12th, '
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Janine » Dec 8th, '09, 18:11

Charles wrote:Thanks for the feedback. We're actually hoping to allow "professional style" comparison cuppings free of charge (using the porcelain cupping sets http://www.adagio.com/teaware/tasting_set.html). I figure there are a lot of people that will abuse a free offer, but most of them are not going to take 10 minutes to comparison cup 3 Pu-erhs or a half dozen Darjeelings. Tea people, on the other hand, will love the experience and will hopefully reward us with their business.
...
After leaving the Adagio Retail Store I don't want people to say "Wow, that was an awesome store", or even "I love Adagio". I want them to say "I love tea and can't wait to get home and drink this stuff!"


Great ideas. What I meant by my question regarding decor was more a matter of style: modern American? Cozy English? Chinese classical or Japanese style? But you're right to focus on the tea and hope that is the focus of the clientele. Besides, something really splashy could be an unnecessary expense for what you have in mind.
User avatar
Janine
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Nov 3rd, '0

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Charles » Dec 8th, '09, 18:59

I'm planning on a decor that is simple, modern and natural. It needs to be in keeping with the existing Adagio brand. Clean, simple, bold colors, but a soft mix of modern and natural. Ideally I want an environment that can adapt to the situation. It won't be a "theme" shop like Asian, English or even Organic/all natural. We're working on designs now and I hope to post pictures of our plans soon...
User avatar
Charles
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Oct 12th, '
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby RachelC » Dec 8th, '09, 21:46

I would suggest a Cafe with food offerings. Comfortable chair/sofa seating and bar and regular table seating as well. I would like to see a warm and welcoming look and feel to it. Not as clean and sterile as TeaG's are set up. In addition, perhaps the best suburban location would be in the Woodfield Mall area. Although, I would be fine if you built it in my backyard. :lol: I will send an E-Mail with more specifics when time allows. Thanks for listening.
User avatar
RachelC
 
Posts: 253
Joined: Jul 27th, '
Location: Chicago

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby faziarizvi » Dec 9th, '09, 16:08

I love that you've opened this up to feedback from your customers.

I completely agree with your assessment of the state of tea cafes - even as a lover of tea I rarely frequent them unless I’m on vacation and need a place to relax for a moment while touring the city. Restaurants are notoriously risky to venture into and I’ve only known one that I found to be so fabulous that I’d go again and again – The Dushambe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado.

But a retail teashop seems like the right idea.

Unfortunately, most of the teashops I've visited are simply a large room with row of tins along the wall - out of reach and mysterious – peppered with a few accessories and a profusion of Japanese teapots. One glance and I’ve taken it all in. There’s little that invites me to discover it by accident, nothing that feels okay to pick up and touch, taste, or experience. And often there’s very little that surprises me since I’ve seen the same thing at the previous shop. What does surprise me is that the teashop experience would be that way. Drinking tea has a feel and a character that's different the world over – there’s so much to offer!

As an anthropologist, one of the things that will keep me in a teashop for longer than a few minutes is the browsing and "discovery" experience. That usually happens when the shop owners have something tea-related that I've never seen before. Often my best tea-shopping experiences are in non-teashops, like middle-eastern grocery stores or kitchen gadgetry stores. Americans are, unfortunately, only really familiar with two stereotypes: frilly rose-splashed afternoon tea for old ladies and uber-zen Japanese-style green tea "lifestyle" tea and that seems to be reflected in the kinds of things that are offered in most teashops. Never have a found a teashop selling rose water and Arabic style glasses for rose-infused milk tea from Syria. I have to go to a middle-eastern market for that. When I traveled to Switzerland this past Fall I was delighted to find accessories (for steeping loose-leaf tea in cups) I'd never seen before. I even found some funky leaf wrapped teas from China while I was there that I've never seen and it’s only on eBay or Indian grocery stores that I’ve found the tiered tea posts from India.

And that’s just the variety of the accessories. What about tasting a sample? Oddly, most tea stores I've been in don't offer any samples, or if they do, it’s only the “sample of the day”. One of my fond memories as a kid was walking into the Hickory Farms store and sampling meats and cheeses and soups from other countries. We always ended up buying something from that store. For someone new to tea, an important experience would be to sample a green tea, then maybe a Darjeeling or a China black tea to understand the difference. (I'm new to wine, and found the opportunity to pay a $5 fee to taste all of a local wineries white absolutely invaluable. Of course I walked away with two bottles - and my $5 tasting fee went towards the purchase.) Someone already familiar with tea might want to try three different Assam blends to find that new favorite of the week. For tea to be enticing to a newbie it’s got to be accessible. Literally. No mysterious labeled tins lined up neatly on the walls behind a counter.

I want to walk into a tea store and immediately see something that’s a new trend, even if it’s slightly silly. I want to have to look up and down and in every direction and to take a stroll through the store to take it all in, knowing that I’ll have to come back again because I surely missed something. I want to taste something, be it tea or the honey or infused sugar to go with it. I’d like to fill my basket with tiny tins of $1, $2 and $3 tea samples because I can’t decide on one larger container. I’d like to know that I could find a gift basket for a friend, some inexpensive accessories, and ooh-and-aah over something both sexy and expensive enough that it goes on my gift wish list. I’d like to find the experience enjoyable and inspiring enough – maybe I get some ideas for entertaining with tea – that I prefer going there to simply purchasing online.
User avatar
faziarizvi
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 9th, '0

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby RachelC » Dec 9th, '09, 16:18

faziarizvi - You couldn't have said it better. I too have traveled to different parts of the world and the most appealing thing is something you have never seem before and knowing you will always find something new time and time again. You literally said everything I wanted to say but couldn't put into words so I will say you have my vote for the direction this retail store needs to go in. Way to go! :D
User avatar
RachelC
 
Posts: 253
Joined: Jul 27th, '
Location: Chicago

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby sneakers » Dec 11th, '09, 15:28

Where will the shop be located?
User avatar
sneakers
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Aug 24th, '
Location: Southeast NYS

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Charles » Dec 11th, '09, 15:50

sneakers wrote:Where will the shop be located?

The pilot store will be somewhere in the Chicago, IL greater metro area.
User avatar
Charles
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Oct 12th, '
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby iannon » Dec 12th, '09, 12:03

I like the idea of free tastings (of course!, who doesn't) but my business side says..how about free samples quite readily available for some of your mainstay type teas and STILL have a minimal charge pro tastings for some of the more premium teas or everything else you deem "non-free-sample-teas"
For example a lot of wineries play with this model. they have some you try free and them one or even two more "levels" that you may pay a couple different price points for to taste a few samples of.
I'm thinking in my mind that the mainstream public or non to newer tea drinkers would benefit from the free sample teas, or the "lets get them into trying and drinking our teas" type teas..and the aficionados (who have been out there online buying premium teas) would gladly pay a few bucks to sample some of the more higher end teas that they may have heard about but never tried or just want to try your version of.
User avatar
iannon
 
Posts: 1631
Joined: Dec 30th, '
Location: The foot of the great Smoky Mountains

Re: Tea Retail, Restaurant or Cafe

Postby Charles » Dec 12th, '09, 15:54

We will certainly have a handful of brewed samples representative of the categories. For the novice, this should suffice. I'm more interested in capturing the interest of the connoisseur with the option of free comparison cuppings. Someone who is serious about Keemuns will be overjoyed to have the option of cupping several side by side, and we are confident that they will be impressed with the quality and value of our product.

It is likely that we will have to put some form of limitation on this. I don't really want someone to cup one each of the 70 flavored teas in a "professional comparison". That kind of defeats the purpose. I do, however, want to make sure that whatever simple limitations or controls we put in place do not deter the tea lover. We don't NEED to charge a sampling fee for reasons of profitability. We WANT tea connoisseurs to come in regularly to experience and enjoy our tea! :)
User avatar
Charles
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Oct 12th, '
Location: Chicago, IL

Next

Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation