About Us

Tea Trader is a seller of tea located in Inglewood, the oldest community of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. While initial sales commenced in 1991, the current name and premises were adopted during the development stage in 1993 while the first shop opened its doors in April 1994.

 

Thinking about the business…..
Back in the late 1980s, Ted, the owner, worked both in London with commodity traders of many types and in Cape Town, where a small tea and coffee merchant in the suburb of Claremont provided him with his morning tea. He had a set of suppliers in place and a model on which to base the business. Having an underlying wish to run his own business, the idea took shape.

For the time being it would be an idea only…..

 

Early days in Toronto…….
Following a family move to Canada, The Hoopoe Company started selling tea at market stalls, the tea being supplied from a London supplier that continues as a cornerstone supplier to this day. We also had a couple of commercial clients including The Robinson Bray Tea Room situated in the, then, Town of Streetsville. It was always the intent to be Alberta Bound, so this was an intermediate step towards opening a shop.

 

Tea Trader
Following a move to Calgary, and settling into a house in Inglewood, the oldest part of the city, plans were brewing for a business on Atlantic Avenue, the original name of the main street through the community. Starting in early 1993, enquiries were made to find space on the later renamed 9th Avenue SE.

 

The Burn Block – with Kensington Antiques

The first shop in Calgary

When Brian McKee and his colleagues were moving their existing business, Kensington Antiques, to new premises in Inglewood in the Burn Block, there was an opportunity for us to share space. At the time 9th Avenue SE was an eclectic stroll peppered with antique/curio shops, cafes and secondhand furniture retailers. At the end of the block The National Hotel and the old barn beside it were in bad shape and frequented by many dubious characters. The shop opened in April 1994, the same month as Spolumbos opened its doors in their original location along the street. This location lasted two years as our partners closed up and we were looking for new space. The mix of antiques and tea had worked well and we still retain some of their counter tops in our shop from that time.

Between April and July of 1996, as an interim, we moved half a block East to share with Our House, a café in another heritage building, the Aull Block, which had been for may years the home of Jenkins the Grocer. While our stay was short, it kept us in business and was a good stepping stone to our next location.

 

Tea on the Internet

teatrader.com viewed in UNIX

Tea Trader was one of the first companies to be part of the Internet. From late 1994, using the email address teatrade@cuug.ab.ca (at that point names could be only seven characters), we were constant contributors to rec.food.drink.tea, the primary list used by tea drinkers on the net. It was a stimulating group with a handful of tea vendors, like ourselves, taking part.

Our domain, www.teatrader.com, was registered in September 1995, being one of just a very small number of businesses with a web page. Hosting our domain at that time cost $59.95/month plus tax! We have received a number of enquiries over the years to purchase the domain.  At that time the pages were viewed using Lynx on UNIX and email was accessed using programs such as EMACS and MAIL! We still send tea to many customers throughout North America who found us at that time.

We later had online ordering on the page – written in PHP, a customer could click on each tea, select the quantity and number of packages of each tea, and then a checkout page would be created. Once a day at 6PM the server sent a fax to our shop with the orders.

 

1213A, 9th Avenue SE– with Nostalgic Expressions

Tea Trader in the late 90s

We were able to find another partner to share premises – Nostalgic Expressions, a craft store combining supplies and lessons that was moving across the road into a space just a couple of doors down from our then location. From August 1996 up until October 1999, within the wide and deep premises, Tea Trader had an open space with wall and floor mounted shelves for the tea tins.

 

1922, 9th Avenue SE – with Nostalgic Expressions
We moved East to the far end of the commercial district in November 1999, again sharing the space. While the new location had better access for customers it was a quieter part of the neighbourhood, situated across the road from the historic Colonel Walker School. We stayed in that location until February 2007, when we moved back to the 12th block of 9th Avenue SE – the same block we had started in!

 

1228A, 9th Avenue SE – Above the Camera Shop!

Our shop today

Back in early 2007, we found ourselves looking for a new location. We starting asking about space along Atlantic Avenue, where our long time customers looked for us to be. By this time the profiles of local businesses had changed – gone were most of the antique shops, being replaced by a mixture of higher quality clothing and furniture stores, with smart cafes, restaurants and within the past couple of years, brew pubs.

Contact with the owner of Robinson Camera, Tony Peterson, resulted in a lease in this building, upstairs, and across 9th Avenue SE from our original location. We moved in, using part of the space for our warehouse and office, with the central area as our retail shop. A tea chest partition separates the two parts and above the display shelves, some historical tea paraphernalia is displayed. A large map of the world on one wall is a legacy of the previous tenant, Civilized Adventures, a tour company.

Now in our twelfth year in this location, we continue our retail business as well as packing and dispatching to mail order customers.