After just over a month of being re-opened inside at the tea shop, I cannot believe I am writing this - I am headed back out to the curb. Today, Arkansas was marked as the 2nd most dangerous place in the United States in terms of contracting the new Delta Variant of Covid-19. With 1,000 new cases yesterday, and another 1200+ new cases today - our state is experiencing a THIRD surge of the virus.
I am so discouraged. I just got used to the shop being open again - feeling a little bit back to normal, and yet we are not back to normal. I would rather be hot and tired on the curb than feeling anxious about the spread of the virus inside of my shop. I am a small business and likely my decision will make a very small ripple in this situation, but I feel a responsibility to myself, my family and to my customers to make efforts to curb the outcome of this next surge.
Many of you already know that a large part of our customers are under the age of 15 - little cuties who love to visit the shop with their parents or neighborhood kids who ride their bike to the shop to share a jug of tea on the porch. These kids have zero choice in vaccination. And, now with new information coming out that there are many breakthrough cases (people getting the Delta Variant of Covid-19 who have been vaccinated for months specifically those who have the Pfizer vaccine.) I know this to be true because a friend of mine who has been vaccinated with Pfizer since April just tested positive this past week right here in Little Rock. Fortunately, I had not seen him for awhile, but the news was enough to have me more than worried. You see, I have the Pfizer vaccine and so does my Grami. The risk of either of us contracting this new and more contagious virus is not worth it especially after I spent 15 months out there keep this little dream alive already.
So, out to the curb we go again. I did it last year - in the heat - and I can do it again. But this go around, I am not going to be as perky about it. Here me when I say, please DO NOT come to the tea stand without your masks on your face. I will not be apologetic about asking you to put one on while you're with me. It is impossible for me to know who is vaccinated and who is not - and by us all wearing a mask that takes the stress and anxiety off me while I sit out there in the sun serving my tea.
If you are out of town and you are reading this, you can still support me! Please shop online - I have a free shipping promotion on the site running through the end of July with coupon-code SUMMERTIME at check-out. You can see my various loose leaf tea blends & other tea accessories at our online store.
Thank you all so much for supporting me thus far - this was a very hard decision for me as the heat is at PEAK levels in Arkansas right now. I will likely only have 2 tea stands per week during the hot weeks but if I see a cool day, I will pop out there more - you can keep up with this info on my social media pages.
Please wear a mask, please get vaccinated, please be mindful of the kids around you, please be kind to each other. - Abbi
I made it! I keep whispering that to myself these days. February marks the start of my fourth year in business. It also marks the 12th month of operating 100% curbside with the tea stand. I spent 10 of the 12 months of my 3rd year outside in the elements of Arkansas weather slinging tea and finding solace in the faces of my neighbors and customers. I MADE IT!
The loneliness of 2020 was really hard for me. Not just at the tea shop that sat quiet and empty day after day, but the world in general was a hard and lonely place. Isolating from those we love, the tensions of extreme partisanship in our country, and the loneliness of being misunderstood and directly lied about were all things I struggled with more than ever in year 3.
I've been giving a lot of thought to what the next month looks like for the tea shop in lieu of the announcement from the State of Arkansas on re-opening restaurants and retail shops.
The quarantine has taken quite a toll on my little business. I never thought I would face such an extreme hiccup in year three.
All that said, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the outpouring of support from friends, regulars, and complete strangers.
The past 7 weeks has been a LOT of shifting gears and a LOT of hard work but we are doing okay. My tea shop will be okay.
There is still so much uncertainty about how this virus spreads, how many people have it, can people get it again, and on and on. As many of you know, I run the shop with my mom and my sister, Jessica. Both of them are diabetic, my mom is over the age of 60 and I am currently the main contact for my Grami - doing her errands, taking her groceries, and visiting with her weekly. My considerations are not just for me, but my family, and ultimately for my customers. Opening the shop too soon could put those I love in jeopardy.
I have decided to continue with curbside pick-up, online order/shipping, and the Tea Stand through May.
We just released our fall loose leaf tea blends here at the tea shop! Our friends over at Rock City Eats have taken some time to try the new blends and give a few thoughts on their favorites.
The new blends include:
The Sassy Sage: bright, complex & no caffeine
Banana Nut Roo: rooibos base with warm nutty texture
Spiced Orange: black tea with a light spice & lots of citrus
The Drowsy Poet: yerba mate & rooibos with smoky citrus layers
Chamomile Cardamom Chai: floral and spicy, a nice non-caffeinated alternative to traditional chai
Be sure to swing in over the weekend for our all you can drink blend release party on Sunday! $5 gets you a cup and the chance to try all the blends!
We had a great time on Good Day Arkansas this morning with Chris from Colonial Wines & Spirits talking about our event on Thursday night! Come see me at Colonial Wines & Spirits from 4-7pm this Thursday to try Abbi's Herbal Mojito and our Blackberry Patch cocktail!
We will be selling tea and Colonial will be serving up free tea cocktail samples!