For a substantial portion of my life, I ran a Store.

Now, wherever I go, I am blessed and cursed with a hyper-awareness of retail situations.

David's TeaI’ve prevented shoplifting, gotten assistance for cashiers who were swamped, and written letters of commendation, when exceptional service is given.

One example of an amazing retail experience came this week, when I ventured into the Kitsilano store of David’s Tea.

I am frequently on Twitter, and have had a number of conversations with people about various beverages.  In one of those conversations, when the subject was tea, it was recommended that I should find my way to David’s Tea.

So, earlier this week, when I unexpectedly found myself in Vancouver, with a few hours to kill… it struck me that I should search this business out.

Through their website, www.DAVIDsTEA.com  I found the store on the corner of 4th and Yew, in Kitsilano.  (Although there are locations throughout Ontario, and more locations apparently imminent.)

The store was very tidy, white and bright, with upbeat music playing softly enough to not be intrusive to conversation.

I was greeted politely when I stepped through the door, and the woman behind the counter came to personally greet me, as soon as she had finished with the customer she was serving.

She could doubtlessly tell from my overwhelmed expression that I had not visited them before, and as she handed me a complimentary sample of the Day’s Tea Blend, I confirmed it.

She gave me a tour of the store, explaining first, the various infusers, and then taking me through the vast selection of the Teas themself.

The loose teas are all stored in metal cannisters with sealed lids, and as she gave me their Tea Menu, she explained that their teas are organized into Groupings: Black, Green, Blooming Tea Flowers, Herbal, Maté, Oolong, Rooibis, and White Teas, (as well as various sub-groupings) which are clearly marked on the outside of the tins, with big letters and colour coded by group.

The tea is sold by weight, with prices on the Menu.  Smaller batches are sold in resealable bags, and larger amounts can be bought in smaller versions of the store’s tins.

David's Tea - Vancouver Location

David's Tea - Vancouver Location

(They also sell their products online, through their website.)

The fragrant Blends of Teas all have quite distinct frangrances, and are also available for purchase by the cup… for take-out, or to test a flavour of tea, in advance of a purchase.

As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying a large mug of Assam Banaspaty Black Tea, which (for example) is described on the menu as being: (Organic, reserve) From India’s famed Banaspaty Estate, this fair-trade Assam has a good malty body and impressive, full complexity.  

There are two counters by the windows, a selection of newspapers, many stools, and a complimentary wireless internet connection available… and I could see that on a busy Saturday morning, you might have to arrive early to stake out your spot !

Whether you are an ardent fan of Tea, or just an occasional sipper, I would advise you to head to West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, and talk to the folks at David’s Tea.  They have the right stuff to fill up your cup, and lots of friendly knowledgeable staff to help you on your Tea journey !

Cheers !!!

Wal-Mart logo - BobBlahBlah.comWas stunned today to hear that WalMart has turned a corner, in terms of their approach, and are openly and aggressively going to be trying, in the next 18 months, to drive their largest competitors out of business.

For quite a few years, I ran a store, and in all our endeavours, while we may not have thought highly of our competition… the number one focus was never to eradicate competition.  It was product quality, product availability, customer service, product price… and if we kept to our goals, and maintained a good position on ALL of these points… it would possibly make it more difficult for our competition… and if they aren’t well positioned, they may fail.

I took Marketing in University… (back in the day) …and one of the tenets of Marketing, was the “Four P’s“…  Product, Place, Promotion and Price.  These four factors, when combined with the “T” of  Timely delivery, was the key to a successful marketing strategy.

Now, apparently, it is down to the “One K“… Kill your competition !!!

(And, as an aside, KMart is one of the first targets)

I think it is scary when a retailer becomes SO big, that they do not have to be cagey, or circumspect in their attempts to take over the world, and stamp every inch of the planet with their “mark” !