Friday, June 21, 2013

Birth of a Tea Room - Part 7

The Phoenix Has Risen!
We are back!  Well, we are re-opening tomorrow, whether ready or not!  We still have a few teas to bag, but we'll get caught up in the next week or so.  But, the shop is basically back together, and ready for customers.
 We only had room for two tables--that's 8 chairs, but with and extra two chairs we could pull in, we can seat up to 10, plus we have the tea bar.  So, plenty of room for larger tea tasting classes.  And, with the fresh batch of made-from-scratch scones I baked tonight, we are ready to go! 
 I know my husband and brother and other helpers will be glad to get back to normal schedules, and I am happy to be able to offer fabulous teas to my customers once again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Birth of a Tearoom - Part 6

It's all starting to come together now...
We moved over our massive stock of tea--over 150 types mostly in 2 kilo bags!  These shelves are actually quite bare compared to when we are fully supplied.  We sold so much tea before we moved, that we have to put in another order as soon as time permits, which has to be soon since we are totally out of some of our most popular teas.
So, the tea cottage is now full of tea, and the lettering overhead finally came in and was mounted on the wall. 

And we've now got a good start on packaging tea for the shop shelves.

Merchandise is in the un-packing and slowly re-appearing on the shelves.

The outside sign got mounted on the front of the building.  Got our name and hours posted on the front door.  It looks great when lit at night, and this street gets so much traffic that we've even gotten several calls from new customers in the area who want to know when we are opening. 

My favorite Priscilla tea set is back at home on its charming old tea cart.  It's rickety and wobbly, but the old tea set somehow looks right sitting on the glass tea tray, just waiting to serve a lovely tea to some eager tea lover.

The health department came today and granted my license without much ado, and it looks like we will actually be ready to open this Saturday!

And Einstein rests again above my desk, inspiring me on so many levels.  His quote, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds..." somehow helps me to deal with all the challenges of running a small business. 
Almost there...whew!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Birth of a Tearoom - Part 5

Pack, Move Out, Store, Find New Space, Build Infrastructure, Move In, Add Character
Finally--the fun begins!

We've started to move in all those things that make our space "Elaine's Tea Shoppe". Even though we had most of the basic fixtures and furniture in place last week, we've now started to bring our character in.  There's a front entryway where we mounted our old screen door.  That and a few prints warmed up that boring white space.

Next, we added our signature latticework to the front of the building.  It was so, so drab before--just aluminum and glass.  But after a brush of hunter green paint, the lattice really stands out. Can't wait until we get out sign on the brick above.

And then, we brought in my teapot collection.  And all of a sudden, it came alive!  I can't adequately describe the warmth and energy those teapots added to the space. 

Next came the two large hibiscus plants and our philodendrons.  We're crazy enough to regularly water real plants, just to make sure we get all that good chi that plants bring to a room.  The hibiscus are near and dear to me.  One was my mother's and the other was one she'd rooted and gave to me years ago. She passed in 1997, and I've kept them going all these years, though they haven't flowered in years.  Pot bound and I keep forgetting to feed them. But, in this new place, I'm bound and determined to get them to bloom.  They are double tropical blooms, and when they flower, they look like great big frilly reddish/pink roses.  They're beautiful, and when they do flower again, I will be posting photos to be sure.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Birth of a Tearoom - Part 4

Glitches Galore
Making progress, but it seems like I'm in some bizarre game show called  "Fix This Glitch"!  The first big one was my old desk just wouldn't fit.  No how, no way.  So, I figured that a corner type desk would fit best in the space.  Went on line to find exactly what I needed, and it had to be ordered.  None of the three office stored in town carried that model. 

Then there was the challenge of putting it together.  With me reading the directions, and the TeaMan wielding the screwdriver, we got it together on two nights.  Big one off the list. 

Part of the reason we chose this location, was that the plumbing all seemed to be right in place, and, naturally we thought that would save some money in plumbing costs.  So, at the right point, I set out to find a plumber.  The one I used last time turned out to not be licensed in our county, and I found out after the fact that that's required on top of the state license.

So, I started calling for estimates.  The first one came in at a shocking $2500 just to hook up 3 sinks and my ice machine.  Called around some more, and found a reference for a plumber that was supposed to be much more reasonable.  His estimate came in at $2585 plus permit fees not included!  A rough figuring of how long the job should take minus materials yielded somewhere between $300-400/ hr.!  Highway robbery!  And glitch city! 

If I've learned one thing in the years I've run my own business, it's to have tenacity.  And after lots more searching, we finally found one who would do the job, everything included, for $1800.  Still a pretty penny for the minor amount of work involved, but with time running shorter, I scheduled him to do the work. 

Then, when we tried to place the hand washing sink in the only area it could go, my old sink was just too big.  Off to the home store circuit again to find the right sink.  My brother built a custom counter to hold it and fill the gap left beside the 3 compartment sink, and now I have a little more work space than I expected. 

The under counter refrigerator has to sit on a platform (6 inches off the floor), because the appliances have to be able to be cleaned under.  We measured the counter height carefully in the plans, but when we went to place he fridge under the counter, it was two inches too tall!  We cut down the platform, and now it's a perfect fit.  Keeping fingers crossed that the health dept doesn't notice.  I can still easily clean under it, so you'd think that would be OK, but sometimes the health dept is a stickler for the letter of each regulation, and totally ignores the reasonable practicality.  Like I said, fingers crossed. 

Almost every display fixture had gotten nicked or scratched in the move, so it took the better part of a day to touch everything up.  Not a difficult job, but time consuming.  Several of the fixtures, in the new configuration, were sitting too low, and we spent a weekend building boxes for them to sit on.  With painting each with two coats of paint, it really did eat up a whole weekend.

I have a very nice two-piece custom built cash register counter, which, in each of the other locations, fit nicely.  But, of course, here they are just too big and were taking up too much space.  Finally I figured that they could be nested closer together with a notch cut out of one of them.  Enter carpenter brother Dave again.  With his handy saw and careful measurements (carpenter's mantra:  measure twice, cut once), problem solved!

I imagine there will be a few more glitches before all is said and done, and we're into that nerve-wracking stage of only a couple of weeks until opening.  But, we've gotten through before, and we will again.  At least things will get more fun from here on out as we start to decorate and bring the merchandise in--and the plants--and my antique tea cart with my favorite Priscilla patterned tea set on it. 

We're getting there...we're getting there...