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
What's In Your Cup - Meaghan Ferneau
Name: Meaghan Ferneau
Where are you? Little Rock, Arkansas
What do you do? Regional Demand Generation Manager (basically Tech Marketing) and Princessing as a side hustle!
Favorite blends? Gentle Dreams / Rose Mint / Peach Mint
Iced or hot? Hot!
What's your ideal tea experience? Sitting out in the French countryside with a cup of Gentle Dreams and no one is around, except Chris Pratt - he’s there. Did you say ideal experience or day dream? Same thing right?
What got you into tea? I have always enjoyed it, but in all honesty I have never had blends as creative or delicious as Abbi’s!
Any fun cocktails or weird/fun things you do with your tea leaves? I use the Rose Mint leaves on my hands for eczema- and we have made cocktails with a few blends making a simple syrup!
What are you reading? I finally opened up “Untamed” which I’ve had sitting unopened for quite some time!
What are you listening to these days? I’m an old soul - I love old records mainly from the 60s and 70s.
What's a blend you'd love to try but haven't yet? Goji Ginger
Thanks for always making me laugh, Meaghan and for all the kind words & drive by honks from the Jeep on your way home!
A Sappy Teapot Story Coming Through...
A really small and insignificant event just happened that triggered in me a deep cathartic cry that I feel has been dwelling up in me for a few weeks now. One of those cleansing “make things new by clearing things out” types of cries.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when I was trying to figure out what retail would sell and would be easy to move in and out every day out at the tea stand I made some purchases of teapots.
Typically when I buy teapots or things for the store, I choose things that I really love in hopes people will love it like I do.
So, when I found this matte gray teapot with a cream accent, I really wanted to keep it for myself but alas, I have so many teapots. I couldn’t let it pass and there was only one left from this manufacturer, and I needed it for the stand.
I knew it would sell.
Well, the year passed - in and out this gray teapot came and went with me out to the stand. In every season - cold weather, spring weather, hot humid weather, fall weather, and repeat.
When we got to the point where I was ready to open back up, I was merchandising and buying for the gift shop room & the gray teapot was the last remaining teapot from that initial pandemic buy. I just didn’t understand why no one loved this little teapot like me. So, I told myself that if it was still here at Christmas this year, I would take it home, and it would be mine.
Today, I sold the gray teapot.
I do not know why it touched me so much, but when they came around the corner after spending much time debating which pot to choose for their tea nook, they had the gray teapot nestled in their elbow.
Tears sprung to my eyes and I said, “Oh, are you going to buy that one?!” They said “Well, we’d hoped so!” I quickly said “yes, yes please!” and unintentionally I let loose some tears on them. I explained to them about how this was the only teapot that literally came in and out every single time at the tea stand for a year and a half - and, how I just didn’t understand why no one would buy it.
The loneliest but most loyal teapot to survive the elements and the hustle without even so much as a chip on her. She’s a resilient little pot, that one!
The tears were rolling at this point and I said, “That teapot has just been waiting for you! It’s just been waiting to find you this whole time and I hope you will just love her and cherish her.”
They were super cool about it even though my sappy ass was having a bit of a moment. We chattered about books and other things and they headed out the door with her.
But, as they are standing on the sidewalk - teapot lovingly held in their arms - I feel like the whole load of this year just came rolling out of me. The weight of making it through it all. The weight of hauling my shop in and out every single day.
Farewell, teapot friend. You are the only one who saw me laugh, cry, dance, sing, work, sweat, read, & work my entire self mentally & physically to keep this tea shop afloat. You did it with me - all on the side of the curb during the hardest year of my entire life. You hold so many stories and sights and memories that only you could see & many only you will ever know.
I hope you get used fully and often and I bet you make the best damn tea a pot could ever make because you survived this year just like me — and now you are right where you belong! We made it. We’re okay. We survived - and now we can go back to doing what we were really meant to do.
Prosperi-TEA: February 2021 Update
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.
The Reali-TEA: November 2020 Update
I am coming up on my 3rd business birthday - and things could have gone A LOT worse for the shop especially since we are so young and just getting our legs underneath of us.
Mom and Jessica are doing well. This year has been pretty hard for my Jessi girl. She loves her routines and loves having a plan, and 2020 just does not allow for that. She was going to get married to Donald in October but we have postponed their special day until next year as they are both high risk and so are many of their friends and family.
How am I doing? So many of you have asked and continue to ask, and I often do not know how to respond. My bubbly, perky self wants to say "I am great - just gotta keep going! Keep swimming! Keep trying!" but the reali-TEA is that I am really not doing so great in terms of how this year has impacted me personally. I am tired. I often bounce between discouraged and hopeful. But, the cases keep rising. I see more and more people out and about in large groups without masks on. It is almost like some folks have decided this isn't real, and that the impacts of this virus are just a charade.
As far as the shop goes, sales are steady. We were really doing good March through July - and then the heat set in, then back to school, and then the election. September and October months were slower than desired, but this last week of October was really strong which lets me know that tea season is here and y'all are ready for it!
Many of you have already been asking about Holiday Spirit and Twinkle Tea - these will be released Black Friday & Small Business Saturday like they are every year. I know so many of you are looking forward to stocking up on those! I just got the BEST cinnamon bark in this week to start blending it up!
I plan to be out curbside through November. I am not sure what we will do in December - that is so dependent on the weather and also how many active cases the state has then. Right now, we have more cases in the state and in the country than we did when we were in lock-down back in March & April. So, I am digging my heels in and staying on the curb as long as humanly possible.
Please continue to support my business - I know it's tempting to buy that tea at the grocery store or whatever big box retailer you find yourself in this holiday season, but I can tell you that I am TRULY grateful for every single sale - always of course - but this year especially.
Be safe, wear a mask, be kind & give as much grace as you can to all of us retail & restaurant folks.
I promise you, we are all doing our very best despite so many factors that are out of our control.
The Month Ahead - May 2020
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.
Fall Blends Featured on Rock City Eats
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!
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3933 S Croatan Hwy, MP 12.5, Nags Head, NC 27959