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New store on the mall offers tea and spice experiences

As Art Hoppers stroll the mall Friday night they may step into a new shop, enticed by the scents of Tudor House Tea & Spices, at 352 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

Kelly Zajac will be selling tea to those interested in a taste.

In her 900 square foot store, 700 of which is devoted to retail space, Zajac has teas and spices arranged to offer maximum appeal to shoppers.

There is no place to sit and savor a cup of tea. Instead, she has a tasting bar where customers can take a sip and find out more about a specific blend they find intriguing.

"It’s strictly retail," Zajac says. "There is a tasting bar and teas and spices displayed on shelves. They can look at it. Smell it. Taste it. It’s a sensory experience."

The tea and the gourmet goodies, including Cherri's Chocol'art, are for sale and for take out.

Zajac has been in the business for a year, having purchased it from a previous owner of four years standing.  

The move downtown represents an evolution which previously involved tea parties given in her home. She increasingly realized many potential customers were not interested in the party, they just wanted to learn about the teas.

The idea for a storefront continued to nag at her until she found herself filling out an application to the Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. retail incubator program. The retail incubator offers training, mentors and money intended to help budding businesses grow. She now is in the final phase of the program, 18 months in a retail location.

Zajac says Kalamazooans don’t have a favorite tea, but those that have the taste of fruits or flowers are very popular.

As local interest develops in different kinds of teas and their origins on various estates around the world, Zajac says she's excited to offer that kind of information to customers. She will open with 50 different teas and plans to build her offerings to 100, a number that she can comfortably rotate so it is always served fresh.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave
Source: Kelly Zajac, Tudor House Tea & Spices
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