As one of the oldest tea companies in the U.S., Connecticut’s Simpson & Vail is anything but your ordinary tea and coffee shop. Shoppers can sip on some tea or coffee and enjoy the scenic views of the lake just outside the store while they meander around a multitude of flavored tea, coffee, tea pots and accessories, cookies and other treats. Be careful when you enter, because you may never want to leave.
Getting the Par-Tea Started
This adorable little coffee and tea shop is a family run business located in Brookfield, Connecticut. The current co-owners, siblings Jim and Cyndi Harron, took over the business from their parents who bought the company in 1978. Their parents still work at the company and enlighten customers on the brand’s newest blends, while the siblings handle more of the bigger operations. Simpson & Vail is named after the two gentlemen who first started the company in 1929.
Being located on a secluded street far from the main road, you might think that they wouldn’t get very many customers. Luckily, this quaint area is doing just fine. “Every year we’ve been doing very well. Our store sales have been increasing every year since we opened this store in the summer of 1998,” Jim Harron said.
Simpson & Vail started off as an online only mail order business. Even though they still make more sales online, having a physical presence in today’s industry is crucial for a retailer’s survival. It’s helped them to not only grow their business and have their warehouse under one roof, it’s also given the brand more exposure and helped get their name out there.
The Tea Masters
Simpson & Vail currently carries over 380 teas, a large assortment of tea accessoires, a line of 100 herbal tisanes, teabags, over 80 types of coffee, and a plethora of specialty gourmet food products. The company imports the tea leaves and coffee beans from other countries as well as some here in the U.S., but everything is then ground, processed, and packaged right at their warehouse in Brookfield. Their newest line of tea is the National Park Tea Collection, and the company donates 10 percent of all tea sales in this line to help preserve the United States’ national parks.
The Loyal-Tea Program
Of course, a successful retailer doesn’t go far without a loyalty program. Simpson & Vail offers a way for customers to earn money back with every purchase they make, and it’s super easy to earn points:
- You must create an account on their website in order to accrue and redeem rewards points.
- For every $1 spent on merchandise, customers earn 1 reward point. 20 rewards points will redeem $1 off of your next order.
- Shoppers can also earn points with reviews of purchased tea, coffee or herbs, which will give you 50 points. Food or teaware reviews earn 10 points.
- If a customer emails the company a recipe they created using one of their teas or tisanes, that will earn them 100 points.
- Customers can then redeem their points on the checkout page on the company’s website.
U-Tea-Lizing Time Wisely
There’s no such thing as down time for businesses. Even when the buying season is slow, it’s important to utilize that time to get ahead of the game and prepare for new products, future sales, or an event, and that’s exactly what Simpson & Vail does during their slow sales season.
“Our slowest time is in July and August because a lot of people go on vacations,” Jim said. “Luckily it’s those slow times when we can prep for fourth quarter and make a whole bunch of gift boxes and sampler packages. We say it’s our slow time, but it’s not slow in the warehouse. We keep busy.”
Simpson & Vail also does wholesale ordering, and their products are in quite a few different locations in the Connecticut area and beyond. To check out their full line of products, including their newest line of National Park teas, visit their website at www.svtea.com.