'Everyone is welcome here:' Thunder Bay entrepreneurs look to connect culture, community through new tea shop
Owners hope their shop can be a safe gathering place for people in the community
A Thunder Bay, Ont., couple says they had the "epiphany" to turn their life-long love of tea into a business endeavour.
In December, Denise Atkinson and Marc Bohemier opened Tea Horse — a tea shop named after an ancient road used to move teas from China to Tibet. The couple works with Canadian-based suppliers to sell their ethically-sourced products.
The idea came to them several months ago at the Toronto Tea Festival.
"It is inclusive of everybody," Atkinson said of the fledgling business. "Everyone is welcome here."
While Atkinson and Bohemier said they hope to share their love of tea with the city, the pair has dreams for Tea Horse that go far beyond hot drinks. They said they hope their shop can be a safe gathering place for people in the community to come together, hang out and have good conversation.
Tea is a connection to culture and community, they said. Atkinson recalled moments from her life where she and her family got together to drink tea and chat and laugh — moments that they hope to replicate in the shop's lounge.
One group of people they believe they can engage with specifically is international students who are reminded of home by tea.
Atkinson and Bohemier said they want to partner with local restaurants and businesses and to host tea workshops and tea-tastings.
"We have great chefs, great cooks" said Bohemier about the Thunder Bay restaurant scene. "If you finish your meal with a great dessert ... incorporate great tea with it."