BUSINESS JOURNAL: Tea for two and two for tea

Allan Wilson is co-owner of the new Infusion’s Tea on Michigan Avenue. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

A local couple has put her sales background and his buying expertise together to form a new business they call Infusion’s Tea.

“In the first seven days after we opened, we did enough sales to support the business for the month,” said owner Allan Wilson.

He and partner Cheryl Scollard say they are capitalizing on a burgeoning loose tea market, fuelled by the medicinal benefits of tea and its widespread availability in hundreds of varieties.

Their store opened Aug. 3 in Point Edward on Michigan Avenue, a prime summertime location for people headed under the Bluewater Bridge.

“There is constant traffic here,” said Wilson. Ten customers coming into the store in just half an hour seemed to bear that out.

They perused shelves full of loose teas and sniffing jars so they could breathe in the aroma before buying a steeped cuppa or a 50-gram bag to take home.

Infusion’s Tea features 40 tea varieties and Wilson intends to add more in the coming weeks. Flavours range from the popular Almond Rocker Rooibos and Organic Earl Grey Cream teas, to herb and fruit varieties such as Pina Colada Carmen Miranda or Paradiso Peach.

Most cost about $8 to $9.50 per bag.

Daily specials are advertised for individual cups of tea served steaming hot in minutes, or cold iced teas for hot summer days.

One wall is filled with tea accessories including products you’d expect like teapots and infusers. But there’s also some more unusual tea accessories like the heatproof Borosilicate glasses that sell for $19.99 a pair. They are insulated glass cups that protect from burning temperatures but keep beverages good and hot.

Infusion’s Tea also carries kettles with indicators so water can be boiled to the exact temperature that each kind of tea.  For instance, green tea is best if water is brought to 175 F (79 C).

Wilson, 54, and Scollard, 50, grew up in Sarnia and dated when while attending Central Collegiate high school.

“We went our ways in life and got back together again last year,” said Wilson. He has extensive buying, marketing and promotional experience in a number of sectors including the Canadian Armed Forces.

She is director of operations and marketing at a rehabilitation services company in London.

“Our business model is to have this store as well as hire consultants for home parties,” said Wilson. “We know it’s being done already by another really successful company and we know there’s still a lot of room in the market for growth.

“It makes more sense to have a team of consultants selling for us, rather than just the two of us.”

In the next four months, Wilson said he hopes to have 30 to 40 consultants onboard.

Infusion’s Tea is located at 127 Michigan Ave. and open Tuesday – Saturday.  For details on product selection and home party consultant opportunities, visit www.infusionstea.ca or call 226-402-1987.

If you have an interesting idea for a local business story, contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.