Please note- this negative review is in no way due to the store personnel. They did exactly what the company trained them to do, and they did it politely. Teavana, if you are reading this, please take to heart that the negative experience I had was due to your company procedures/sales tactics.
Unfortunately, this location has lived up to the worst expectations from what has been posted about the company and individual store-front locations.
I visited on a Saturday night, and it looked like the staff was probably the youngest/newest sales staff the store had (as expected, given how late in the day it was). I received the full-force sales pitch. Initially I was a little taken aback (I hate pushy sales situations). But I tried to be polite, and asked a few questions. It was quickly obvious these girls really did not know that much about tea. But they were young, I did not hold it against them. I thought “at least they are trying”.
The polite-but-pushy sales pitch continued towards things I had no interest in, and was only left alone when “fresh meat” walked in the door. I felt sorry for the new customers- they were newbies, and unfortunately immediately offered up that fact. As the staff applied the usual sales pitch to the newbies, I become more and more appalled, especially at the staff’s lack of knowledge. For example, the newbie customer asked three (yes, 3) separate times about the difference between “tea” and “mate”. Each time the sales girl came back with a different version of the same “non”-answer- all she could talk about was the different “health benefits” of them. She never could answer his question, nor did she seem to think there was anything wrong with her “non”-answer. After the 3rd time, the customer gave up. You could see it written all over his face. They bought a few items, but it was obvious when they left they were not satisfied.
And before I forget- within the mall, this Teavana store is located near some other highly fragranced (perfume?) retailer. The smells from the perfumes were very prevalent in the store, making it almost impossible to actually smell the teas. I gave up trying to pick out any new teas, and kept my purchase to a small bit of teas I drink regularly.
Overall, I am still giving Teavana 2 stars, because I really do like the ability to peruse the teas in person. And if you put up your heavy-duty anti-sales force-field, you can get in & out of the store with what you want and not feel fleeced afterwards.
But because of their totally unacceptable business/sales model (get every dollar you can out of the customer right now whether they want the merchandise or not, whether it is based on lies or not, and screw building up a good long-term relationship), I will continue to go to them only as a last resort.
Loved this place! For a small town like Panama City, it is quite a surprising little gem. They do not have the widest selection of teas, but the atmosphere is great. The owner is a wonderful British lady- very, very nice. Great customer service. Would definitely recommend.
The information listed on Steepster has been updated from Willow’s web page as of 2/18/13.