Brewing up a successful business


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/09/2022 (275 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Tucked into a corner of the strip mall at 1500 Dakota St. in south St. Vital is a shop filled with many ways to meet our comfort needs.

BREWTeas is owned and operated by Cristina Lucar Thomasson, a trained tea sommelier who can blend and create a unique tea or recommend a mixture of tea leaves to match her customers’ tastes.

As well as a wall filled with glass jars containing a wide variety of teas, the shop features unique creations handmade by Manitoba artists and crafters. The walls hold an array of art pieces and lovely antique dressers and cabinets are used to display items such as jewelry and home decor items. Lucar Thomasson said she regularly stocks work by up to 45 makers.

<p>BREWTeas owner Cristina Lucar Thomasson next to the many teas and blends she offers in her store at 1500 Dakota St.</p>

BREWTeas owner Cristina Lucar Thomasson next to the many teas and blends she offers in her store at 1500 Dakota St.

After leaving her family home in Venezuela, Lucar Thomasson met her now-husband Kevin Thomasson in Florida. The couple moved to Winnipeg and began a wholesale tea business in 2010. Lucar Thomasson said her parents were business owners, and the entrepreneurial spirit runs in her blood.

“I really like to own my own business,” she said

While she had a strong wholesale customer base of hotels and restaurants across Canada, she often got requests from people looking to buy smaller quantities of tea for personal use. She didn’t feel comfortable using her office and warehouse space near the Royal Canadian Mint for retail purposes so she and Thomasson began looking for a suitable retail space.

“My two kids were younger then and I wanted to find something close to home (in Royalwood),” she said.

They found the vacant unit in the strip mall at Dakota Street and Warde Avenue and opened the BREWTeas store about five years ago.

Lucar Thomasson said the past five years have been filled with successes and challenges, with the biggest challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other retailers, she had to scramble to upgrade the company’s online business and begin using social media more effectively.

“In the beginning, my online store was just focussed on the teas, but I wanted to also feature the makers,” she said, adding that she and Thomasson worked to expand the scope of their site, and to fill and deliver orders.

While the store managed to stay open as an essential business for most of the past two years, just being open didn’t guarantee that customers would be willing to shop in-person. She said, now most people are mainly comfortable returning to her brick and mortar shop, but there are some who keep using the online option.

For those who do come through her door, Lucar Thomasson and her staff regularly offer brewed tea samples to show off various basic types of tea and how these can be flavoured with spices, florals and fruits. She also carries herbal tea blends.

Lucar Thomasson said she always drinks her tea without milk or sweeteners, but she realizes that other people are accustomed to adding these to their tea and it is sometimes a reflection of their cultural background.

For true tea aficionados, she has started to carry antique and unique tea pots as well as her company’s branded tea infuser. But whether you’re a seasoned tea fan or a newbie, you’re sure to find something that’s your cup of tea.

Andrea Geary

Andrea Geary
St. Vital community correspondent

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.

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