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AMiles said

Store Planning Questions

I’m in the business planning stage of a retail store for loose leaf tea and other teas. I do not intend on preparing tea for sale, but would like to provide a small sample if asked. I tend to lean towards the modern/well lit/spaceous style of stores when I am shopping for myself. However, other stores in my area are more general store/old world/country feeling atmospheres. There are currently no tea stores in my area (trying to fill a niche), but there are a couple of women that are home based, home party consultants. The closest true tea shop is 3 hours away – franchises are usually not interested because of our population, but what they always seem to miss is that our main industry is oil and gas. We have a lot of disposable income available and other business owners have done extremely well, if managed well. Our town has about 20,000 people, and a bigger rural population. I have over 15 years of retail experience and management but still have questions and would like to talk to someone in a similar area. I also would love to get a real good conversation going about all areas of planning. Any discussion of your personal preferences and experiences in any aspect will be greatly appreciated!

1) Modern or old fashion/country? Well lit with metal/glass fixtures or wood/brick/antique decor?
2) What would be the perfect size of store? Square feet?
3) If I have loose tea, sold by weight, then packaged in bags or tins for the customers…. How many flavors should I have to have a good selection? 24? 36?
4) If I also sell prepackaged tea, should I try to stick with a few main/big named brands? I’m thinking of the visual appeal to the store? I don’t like the thought of too much to choose from and would need to keep stock rotating.
5) Store fixtures? How large should my packaging/weighing station be? I see many stores with long counters. Is this just the tradition, or is it very practical?
6) I see many photos of stores online that have their bulk tea in big glass jars. Probably for visual effect. I like the idea of metal canisters. Where would one source the supplies needed for selling tea?
7) What does the average customer spend on their purchase?
8) What amount of your sales are teaware/giftware? Items that are a must-have? Items that I should avoid?
9) Any POS system that works well for tea shops?
10) Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for any help you can give me. :D

2 Replies
Lala said

First of all congratulations, and good luck with your store.

1. It doesn’t matter to me what the store looks like, in regards to decor. I like my tea stores to be well lit, lots of room to move around so not to bump into things, the shevling well dusted, things not placed too high or too low.
2.I don’t have much suggestion for this. I think it really depends on what is available to you and how much product you are planning on stocking. I think it is important that there is enough room to move around the store.
3. I think its nice to have a variety of options for how to package loose leaf: foil or paper bags, tins, etc. In regards to starting a business, it might be best to start with a lower number of tea blends but have to ability to increase based on customer wants and needs.
4. I like to have a large variety of brands when I go into a store. However, if you look at it from a business stand point, it might be better to start with 2 or 3 brands and see how well they sell. One of my local tea shop makes their own bagged tea from their loose leaf tea (to sell in separate and small quantities).
5. I don’t think it needs to be a long counter but you need enough space to work. I like to be able to see the store employee weighing the tea (I had one instance in which I could not see what an employee was doing and she was crushing the tea down in the bag with a metal scoop in order to fit more in the bag).
6. I like glass jars becuase you can see all of the tea. With the canisters you can only see the top layer of the tea. In saying that, as long as I can open the lid, see the tea, and smell it, it doesn’t matter what it is stored in.
7. I generally spend between $10 and $25 at a time, but have spent as much as $100 when buying things like teapots, mugs, strainers, etc.
8. I am already established with my teaware, so at this point I mostly just buy the tea (except for those impulse buys). But there was a time where I spent a lot of money on teaware. I think its good to carry some kind of strainers, cups, mugs, teapots. You might need to start small and see what sells in your area.
9. Unsure.
10. Maybe canvas some tea drinkers in your area and see what they want, what brands or flavours they want.

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I only have an answer/suggestion for question 6. One of my favorite tea stores their tea in metal canisters, but near the counter they have small plastic canister with maybe 3 teaspoons if tea. These are in case the customer wants to smell any of the teas or if they want to look closely at the ingredientS. It is great because then the customer doesn’t feel like yet are wasting the person behind the counter’s time by asking to smell ALL of the teas.

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