Today we’d like to introduce you to Kari Grady and George Grossman.
Kari and George, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
We opened Happy Lucky’s Teahouse in the old firehouse in Old Town Fort Collins in October 2009, during the last recession. We figured there was nowhere to go but up from there. We started with imported silk goods from Cambodia in the front and a small tea room in the back, because at the time we were looking for visibility for the education project we had started in Cambodia, Sustainable Schools International. (Our oldest child is from Cambodia). Fort Collins had no proper tea shop at the time and we quickly learned that tea was the real draw, so after the first Christmas season we moved the silks to the back, and the tea to front. We built a color-coded Great Wall of Tea as an interactive, sensory experience of smell and taste. Over the years we’ve grown the tea wall to include over 200 loose leaf tea offerings, half pure leaf varieties from around the world and the other half, naturally flavored custom blends and herbal tisanes artisan crafted in-house.
We built our customer base through focused tea-tastings, tea-education classes, tea rituals and the great tea exchange, with a percentage of sales donated to Sustainable Schools International.
In 2013, we expanded our tea room and launched out first e-commerce website www.happyluckys.com In 2016 we opened a second location in the Front Range Village plaza in south Fort Collins. In 2019 we celebrated our ten year anniversary with a Ten Year Tea Festival, featuring a month of tea themed events and we also launched a re-designed e-commerce website on Shopify. This gave us the foundational infrastructure to pivot our business to online during the COVID shutdown and offer online ordering with curbside pick-up, local delivery and free shipping. We are continuing with a You Tube channel of virtual tea tastings, embedded on the product pages of our website to help our customers still enjoy the in-store sensory experience, we’re slowly opening to more in-store traffic under the safer at home guidelines.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The struggle has always been finding all the tea lovers out there and helping them find us. Online shopping from big box retailers like Amazon has always been the biggest challenge for small brick & mortar business. In the tea world we also compete for consumers attention from the much larger coffee industry. Opening a second store was a huge financial challenge as we thought we had bigger coattails to ride than we actually did. The growth at the second shop did not match what we experienced with the first one. The COVID pandemic is the biggest challenge of all time. We have contractual obligations to leases of spaces that have a much different market value now, and our space needs have changed drastically as the bulk of our business moved online. The current safer-at-home guidelines are much harder to navigate because nothing is consistent and people are unsure. Foot traffic in our Old Town location is way down, the summer tourist traffic is non-existent and we have not yet been able to re-open our second store because if we can’t operate at volume, we can’t afford to staff it. But we’re working with our landlords on rent relief and change of use ideas. Stay tuned…. there could be some pretty cool alternatives coming down the pike!
HAPPY LUCKY’S TEAHOUSE – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our mission is to “Nourish Your Happy”—through community, connection and the experience of great tea. Since 2009, owners George and Kari Grossman, along with a dedicated team of leafsters, have been sharing how culture, lifestyle, health and happiness boil down to just three elements: Water, Tea, and Time. With a commitment to quality, selection, and community, Happy Lucky’s creates a highly interactive, informative and immersive tea experience. Whether you are already a tea lover or new to the brew, you’ll find the flavor, aroma, and feeling that speaks to you from over 200 loose leaf options on our Great Wall of Tea. Our tea selection is the largest in the State of Colorado!
Our knowledgeable and friendly Leafsters will help you explore the wall and make recommendations for your unique palate, lifestyle and well being. All our tea is available for purchase loose leaf, by the ounce, to take home or brewed in classic teaware for your in-teahouse enjoyment. We have a large assortment of teaware and brewing accessories to help you make delicious tea at home.
With comfortable seating in both teahouses it’s a great atmosphere to relax by yourself, enjoy a date, or plan a work meeting. You can hang out by the front windows, relax in the tea room, enjoy the outdoor seating, or saddle up at the tea bar and watch the Leafsters “work.” Sitting at the tea bar is a great way to talk tea and if the timing is right, you may get in on a leafster’s special tea tasting.
What’s with the Name?
Nourish Your Happy: Mindful attention to savoring an experience has been scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Be Your Lucky: A positive mind attracts positive experience.
We’re here to Nourish your Happy through the experience of great tea!
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Tea knowledge and expertise to help people navigate the vast world of tea. Discerning palates and a commitment to sourcing the highest quality teas and blending ingredients, sourcing organic and fair trade whenever possible. Artisan-crafted custom tea blends and herbal tisanes that you cannot get anywhere else, including a unique line of chocolate teas, chai teas, and health benefit teas. We never use flavorings, only all natural ingredients – if we offer a peach tea is has actual dried peach chunks in it. Our teahouse atmosphere is built on the idea of intentional community. It is designed to be a counter balance to our over-stimulated, multi-tasking, chaotic, digitally oriented culture. It’s a place to connect with other people over a pot of tea, or enjoy quite meditative time alone. Tea supports a healthy lifestyle, mind, body and spirit.
- Address: Historic Old Town Location
236 Walnut Street Fort Collins, CO 80524Front Range Village Location
2720 Council Tree Ave. #166 Fort Collins, Colorado 80525
- Website: www.happyluckys.com
- Phone: 970-689-3417
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/happyluckysteahouse/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HappyLuckysTeahouse/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/happyluckys
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/happy-luckys-teahouse-fort-collins-2?osq=happy+luckys+teahouse
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPlh-0lEe16PCT8WMxuOdbA?view_as=subscriber