Not to seem as if I'm beating a dead horse here at this point (since I was quite a Johnny-come-lately to this entire topic) but I recently learned a few interesting things regarding Teavana following another experience there.
Today I revisited the same Teavana location mentioned in my previous post to purchase a mate gourd. (Technically, this was yesterday, as it is almost 3:00 a.m. in my time zone as I post this.) I know, I know, Teavana is an overpriced, soulless corporation which will rob you blind and sell you inferior tea and all that (at least according to the majority of posters on this forum) but I greatly needed a cuia and Teavana was, overall, the most accessible, expedient, and (strangely) the most affordable option available. That said, I was on an extremely tight budget and could only afford the gourd and nothing more whatsoever. While there I learned two effective methods of avoiding the aggressive 'hard sell/supersize me' tactics of the less-than-scrupulous sales model, if you absolutely must from time to time (as I am often compelled) physically venture into Teavana for some accessories or perhaps a favorite blend.
First, being 'black week', the Wednesday before 'Black Friday' when throngs of sale-seeking holiday shoppers flood the malls and retail establishments, the entire mall and the Teavana store itself was quite crowded. This worked ultimately to my advantage as the few sales people in the outlet were highly distracted by the flowing influx of customers, allowing me to slip in quietly, find what I was looking for, and even sample some teas while browsing matcha-related merchandise in peace! Somewhat ironic, isn't it, that I found the greatest serenity in a noisy crowd in the supposedly 'zen-esque' store? I think that this says quite a bit about Teavana's actual atmosphere, but I digress. Really, though, overwhelmed with the sheer volume of customers and curious window-shoppers, the two or three employees didn't really seem focused upon intensively selling any individual any particular item(s), and were actually standing back and allowing people to look around and show interest in items of their own volition.
Also, when I reached the shelf with the gourds, a few questions immediately came to mind. Were they pre-cured, or would I have to 'cure' my purchase myself in order to mitigate bitterness? Some gourds differed in size drastically--did the larger ones cost more? I was almost tempted to inquire after a saleswoman on the first point, but then I realized that this would be just opening the door to a rehearsed sales pitch which I neither needed nor desired. So I resolved my questions myself by a.) sniffing the inside of the cuia to determine if it was 'pre-cured' (it isn't, as I discovered) and b.) remembering from the website the all cuia sold for a flat $14.00, with no mention of size. Had I approached her and asked, 'Hey, are these pre-cured?' I'm almost certain (given past experiences) that the question would have immediately elicited a response along the lines of, 'Well, they aren't, but here's how you do it...and on that subject, would you like some of our special (read: expensive) mate blend to cure it with for the best flavor possible? Now, remember, once it's cured the flavor's in there forever, so you've got to be sure and choose a good one!'
Thusly stated, the 'moral' of this experience, (if you could properly call it that) is twofold. If you must enter a Teavana store, and the aggressive sales tactics REALLY make you THAT uncomfortable, or if you are the sort of person who simply finds himself/herself unable to say 'no', try to go when it's likely to be busy or high-traffic, before holidays, etc. Secondly, do your best to resolve any questions yourself through logic, intuition and your own knowledge of tea, rather than relying upon the salespeople to answer them for you, as this just brings on the 'hard sell' that you are attempting so desperately to avoid.