Wars have been fought over tea. Revolutions have been provoked. And tea remains the most popular beverage in the world — except in America.
It’s not that you can’t get tea here. It’s everywhere you look, in tall cans, in 300-count boxes of tea bags, and nearly every fast food joint has iced tea.
But it’s not the best part of the true tea experience, says Zane Luhman. He runs Tea City in the Rimrock Mall.
“Tea doesn’t have to be the usual ‘status quo’ we are used to from cheap tea bags,” he said.
Tea City may be reached at 652-1222. Here’s what else Luhman had to say about his business and why he started it.
Nature of the business:
We sell the highest quality, great-tasting, all-natural teas, teaware and tea accessories.
Why start this business?
We started this business to
bring our love for high-quality tea to Billings. Tea is the No. 1-consumed beverage worldwide aside from water and we felt someone needed to show Billings why that is, so it might as well be us.
How long have you been in business?
Opened in March.
Your biggest challenge in running the business?
Starting out, it’s been getting our name out there as well as establishing the perfect balance between offering quality product and service at a price point that is reasonable for our customers and also keeps our doors open.
What was done to overcome those challenges?
Putting together a beautiful store and providing a great experience for every customer, which entices them not only to want to come back but also to bring their friends and family with them.
What is being done to expand the business?
We are still new, but actively seeking ways to reach out in the community through fundraisers and local charities. We have utilized Facebook to reach and interact with our fellow tea lovers and look forward to launching our website once finished.
Your best business decisions?
Remodeling the store and giving it a more bright, open and inviting atmosphere, as well as placing our focus on customer service, making them feel welcome and letting them know we value their time and input.
Your worst business mistake?
Every business is going to make mistakes. We are still very new, so we are still figuring out what mistakes we have made. We have made a couple inventory and budget mistakes that we have learned from. We know there will be more to come but are constantly researching and learning to minimize them and will take them head on, learn and keep going.
What advice do you have for someone running a business?
Always treat every customer with respect and be willing and ready to listen, learn and adapt. Your customers will tell you what they want. No business is the same as it was five years ago, so do your best to anticipate change and you won’t be caught off guard.
What’s your five-year plan for the business?
For Tea City, it is to have established ourselves in the Billings community as a thriving local business that is actively involved in the community and doing what we can to improve the lives of everyone we have the blessing to work with. Our goal is not only to have our shop established in Rimrock Mall but also a couple other locations within five years.
Number of workers?
Currently there are five of us, all family.
A question you would ask other entrepreneurs?
What are your best tips on balancing business and family?
If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would be your dream job?
Honestly, I’ve always wanted to run my own business. So I am living it and feel extremely blessed. However, I had a good friend who was a hiking-expedition guide and lived every day to the fullest. I’ve always admired him and the path he took.