Adagio Teas is EXPANDING!
We've just signed the lease on our third store and we're looking for passionate team members to join our team. We'll be transferring some employees from existing stores, so we really need a few great people for each of our three stores.
The right candidates will have some previous sales experience and a passion for customer service. Adagio Tea Consultants are front-line tea evangelists on a mission to introduce casual consumers to Adagio's collection of more than 200 premium loose-leaf teas and line of tea brewing equipment and accessories.
Adagio Tea Stores are designed to be a playground for tea. Where else can you smell and touch hundreds of teas and get a guided tour from a trained expert? Customers are encouraged to create custom tea blends, brew samples of any tea in the building, and test tea accessories on our Cupping Table... more >
The first month is in the history books at Adagio's first "Tea Experience" retail store and it's time to recap and analyze the results. Overall, the store and the model has been successful, but we've definitely seen a few surprises!
First, for anyone who hasn't seen it, I'd invite you to check out the video of the Grand Opening. It gives a great overview of the store and the model, and offers a taste of what it feels like to spend a few minutes "experiencing tea" Adagio style. The video is posted here.
The premise of Adagio's move into brick-and-mortar retail was that most consumers are simply not familiar with quality tea. Traditional tea shops are foreign lands where the people speak in strange languages about things like oxidation, pluckings, flushes, and the benefits of steaming versus pan firing. The supermarket shelves are filled with flashy products and outlandish claims. For the brave soul who gives loose-leaf tea a try, a minor error in brewing or a stale and/or low-quality leaf can result in a poor experience and the incorrect conclusion that, “I simply don't much care for tea... more >
It's been a little more than a week since we opened Adagio's first Tea Experience Retail Store and the initial results are both good and also a bit surprising. Customer traffic is good, the product mix is shocking, and the challenge of balancing customer engagement and efficiency is proving, as expected, to be the greatest challenge.
Good news first: while Naperville, IL is relatively small and quiet compared to many big urban centers, we're seeing no lack of customer traffic. Because we're new to the area, many customers are new to loose leaf tea, and Adagio has chosen to offer very small sample packages (0.5 to 1 ounces of tea), our average order size over the first week was roughly half of my initial $25 target. This is no huge surprise, and not a great concern. The truth is that the inexpensive samples bring more people into contact with a wider variety of teas, and that's a good thing. Regular customers are NOT going to continue buying a size that delivers only 5-10 cups of tea, and the larger pouches are much less expensive per ounce, so I'm not really worried that our average order size will be depressed long term... more >
Adagio Teas' first "Tea Experience" retail store opened at 27 W. Jefferson in downtown Naperville, IL at 4PM on Sunday, October 3rd. It was the very definition of a "soft open". No press release, no advertising, no announcements, just unlocked the door and hung an open sign in the window. The concept store was born without a sound... or so we expected.
The plan was to open for an hour, run a few transactions and test our procedures to make sure that everything worked. The customers had other ideas. While most other retailers on the street were closed by 5PM, and the rest were closed by 6PM, we still had a relatively full house until after 7PM. We had more than 60 people stop in over those three hours and processed 23 tickets.
Thankfully, while the open wasn't as "soft" as I expected, and the store wasn't as ready as I had hoped, we have a very experienced and talented staff and the customers had no idea we were just getting our feet wet.
There are still a lot of things that need work, and we haven't really launched our custom blending or self-service tea bar yet (need some decent signage and we're still fine tuning the selection of tools), but we're selling tea... more >
Control is an illusion.
It's a strange reality of human psychology that minor inconveniences can sometimes cause major stress, and yet we can respond to major crises with calm and perspective. At some point you accept that some things you cannot control. This store opening has been a study in Murphy's Law. The sheer number of unforeseeable complications and delays is almost comical. The good news is that we're finally... almost... done. If the next couple days goes as planned, we should be ready to open the doors to the public on Saturday.
So what could possibly be so complicated about opening a small tea shop? Here are a few examples:
1. We were told by the City that our plans would be eligible for the 5 day, fast-track permitting process. Once we submitted for permits, we discovered that because work had previously done on our space without permit, the Building Department was putting us through a 30 day, comprehensive review.
2. The landlord's design criteria for the space required wood floors... more >
Today is the first day of crunch week, and I can definitely feel the pressure. It's amazing how many moving pieces there are at this stage of the process. At this point you hold on tight, make quick decisions, and pray that you can trust your General Contractor.
It's not as though things weren't messy before today. Last week was a string of near disasters, avoided largely because I have a phenomenal General Contractor. It started with (that's not really true either, but I'll start my story there) the HVAC going out the week before. Turns out a carpenter put a nail through a wire that ran behind the wall connecting the thermostat to the HVAC control unit. Without HVAC the drywall guys couldn't get started (the plaster wouldn't dry well in high humidity). The drywall guys also forgot about the Labor Day weekend when they gave their completion estimate. Instead of being done on Monday the 6th, they completed their work on Wednesday.
As a result, the painter, who was supposed to start on Tuesday the 7th, started another job and couldn't start until Thursday... more >
Construction in Naperville is proceeding quickly. The framing is done and this week we'll be laying the flooring and painting the walls in anticipation of installation of the millwork (cabinets, counters, shelving, etc.) next Monday.
This week we're putting the finishing touches on our part time staff, configuring the Point of Sale System, and reviewing samples of teaware from third party (non-Adagio) providers.
I've posted a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. more >
Just a quick update today on the progress of construction at Adagio's first Tea Retail shop in Naperville, IL. We started construction on Friday, August 20th (see the before pictures here).
Eight business days into the process we've completed framing and much of the core electrical and plumbing work. This morning we were visited by the plumbing inspector, electrical inspector, fire inspector and health inspector for our preliminary inspections. They need to see all of our work before we start putting up drywall and "hide" any possible code violations. Aside from one order to add a little caulk around one pipe exiting the building, we passed with flying colors.
Later today they'll begin putting up the drywall. The flooring is scheduled to go in first thing next week, and we should be able to install our fixtures starting the end of next week.
Once you get to this point in the process things move very quickly... more >
We're now 20 days from our original target opening date of September 13th. The 13th is 90 days from the day we took possession of the Naperville space, and the day that our free rent period expires. With all the vagaries of permitting, construction and lead-time on equipment, stores rarely open on time, and its even less likely with a company's first location.
Like any entrepreneur (and anyone working with a limited budget), I started the process hopeful for the best and planning to get the first store opened by September 1st, 75 days from taking possession of the space. There have not been any catastrophes or huge surprises, but a series of minor challenges have forced us to re-calibrate our timelines.
In order to fine tune our construction plans and ensure a smooth permitting process, we had two separate meetings with the City of Naperville to submit preliminary plans and request feedback. These meetings necessitated a few small changes, but we were assured that our plans, once submitted, would qualify for the City’s 7-day expedited permitting process... more >
Position: Tea Consultants
Location: Naperville, IL
Type: Part time
Adagio Teas is seeking passionate team members to join our first Tea Retail Store in Naperville, IL. The right candidates will have some previous retail or food-service experience and a passion for customer service. Adagio Tea Consultants are front-line tea evangelists on a mission to introduce casual consumers to Adagio's collection of more than 200 premium loose-leaf teas and line of tea brewing equipment and accessories.
Adagio Tea Stores are designed to be a playground for tea. Where else can you sniff and fondle hundreds of teas all on your own, or get a guided tour from a trained expert? Customers are encouraged to create custom tea blends, brew samples of any tea in the building, and test tea accessories on our Cupping Table. Adagio employees are upbeat, relaxed, irreverent, and crazy about the leaf. This is NOT your local cafe OR an old-fashioned tea shop full of tea snobs... more >
Position: Store Manager
Location: Naperville, Skokie, and Chicago IL
Type: Full time salaried
Adagio Teas is seeking experienced and passionate retail professionals to manage our first Tea Retail Store in Naperville, IL and our second store at Old Orchard Mall. The right candidate will have previous retail management and training experience and a passion for customer service. Adagio Store Managers are front-line, lead-by-example tea evangelists on a mission to introduce casual consumers to Adagio's collection of more than 200 premium loose-leaf teas and line of tea brewing equipment and accessories.
Adagio Tea Stores are designed to be a playground for tea. Where else can you sniff and fondle hundreds of teas all on your own, or get a guided tour from a trained expert? Customers are encouraged to create custom tea blends, brew samples of any tea in the building, and test tea accessories on our Cupping Table... more >
After a surprisingly long search and negotiation I am excited to announce that Adagio's first brick-and-mortar tea retail store will be at 27 W. Jefferson in Naperville, Illinois sometime in late August of 2010. (Click here for "before" pictures of the space.)
This location is a little "quieter" and lower profile than will be common for any future Adagio stores, but I wanted to first test the model in a less expensive space where we could really get creative. We're leasing 1,800 square feet of space (plus a basement for storage). Since we're not planning on including any customer seating (read more on the model here), this gives us a tremendous amount of space to play with tea. Read more about the planned design of the store here.
Based on my experience, I'm estimating that the break-even line will be at or a little under $350,000 in annual sales... more >