I am in the very beginning stages of researching and reading all I can about opening and running a tea room, which I plan to do sometime in the next 5 years. I've been a passionate tea drinker and all my life, and a student of tea for almost as long. Unfortunately, I'm relatively inexperienced in the world of small business. I have a few questions, and possibly you could point me in the right direction:
1) What is a ballpark estimate for an initial small business loan for a tea business with a retail location that is both a tea room (sit-down and take-out with pastries brought in fresh each morning from a local bakery) and retailer (teaware, loose tea, tea accessories, books, etc)? I have no idea where to start to get a good estimate going, and have been unable to find a good comprehensive sample list of start-up supplies.
2) What is the best way to gain experience in a tea room without going directly to who will be my competition and asking for a part-time job?
3) I LOVE to travel and dream of visiting tea growers and spending time learning the growing, firing and finishing processes first-hand in Asia, but at the moment lack the budget to go on such extensive trips. Are there any less costly ways to get in touch directly with the tea trade?