The kettle’s still on at Tea Connection

0
740
Julie and Alan McIntyre sit outside their storefront on King Street. The Tea Connection building was hit by a car at the end of February but the business has remained open.
Julie and Alan McIntyre sit outside their storefront on King Street. The Tea Connection building was hit by a car at the end of February but the business has remained open.

A month after having the front of their business destroyed, owners of the Tea Connection on King St. E. are describing themselves as “shaken, not stirred.”

The phrase is borrowed from the martini-style method they use to make their popular iced teas but Alan and Julie McIntyre say it also describes their life since the accident.

“Four o’clock in the morning, Sun., Feb. 28, we got the phone call that somebody ran into our window,” Alan said. “We came down just as they were removing the car. Everything was blown right in. He came within an inch of bursting the (natural) gas regulator which could have blown up the building.”

A 32-year-old Chatham man fled the scene and was later charged with stealing the car he crashed into the building.

Although no one was injured, the McIntyre’s were in danger of losing their entire inventory of loose leaf teas to the near-freezing temperatures.

“Cold weather can harm the teas so we had to get them to a warmer place,” Alan said. “Winmar (property restoration) cleared a path and we took the teas to Clem’s (former bookstore). Our friends helped and we moved more than 200 containers of tea and a mini container for each.”

The initial plan was to board up the front of the building, a move that could have closed the business for up to six weeks.

“We couldn’t afford to close for six weeks,” Alan said. “We’re a new business and we might as well have just packed it in.”
He said the property management firm put in a door, closed in and weatherproofed the front of the building and after “36 exhausting hours” the store opened.

“We didn’t miss one minute of business,” he said.

In fact, the notoriety of the incident helped somewhat as loyal customers continued to support it and some new and curious ones emerged.”

“We’ve actually increased the amount of business we do locally to about 18 per cent of our total,” he said. “For the longest time, we were stuck at 14 per cent.”

McIntyre said the unique teas offered at his store bring customers from London, Kitchener and Toronto to the east, and Leamington and Windsor from the west.

“A lot of people can’t believe we have the variety and quality that we do here in Chatham,” he said.

“That’s the case with a lot of local businesses. It seems sometimes you have to go away, become successful and come back before people accept what you do.”

“We’re not going anywhere. We started in Chatham because we believe in Chatham.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here