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By 2014 business was booming so we decided it would be the ideal time to open a second outlet on the north side of Edinburgh. In November 2014 we opened in Raeburn Place. What we had didn't realise is that with our product being so niche, we were now competing against ourselves. By early 2016, with increased competition in the market in general, we felt that we'd lost focus on what makes our company stand out - our fantastic teas, knowledge and customer service - so we decided to close our second store and focus on doing less only better. Our wholesale trade had increased substantially by this point too and we wanted to focus on improving our range of teas and services that we offer.
By early 2012, we were bursting at the seams. The response to our retail shop had been better than we expected and our wholesale client list had increased considerably. We needed to start importing more tea to satisfy demand and we needed more retail space in the shop. We decided to expand to a warehouse in Leith and we moved all our bulk stock, office, wholesale and mail order operations there. We are still there now - almost bursting at the seams again.
In 2010 we felt confident enough to open PekoeTea's first retail store in Leven Street, Edinburgh. It was a kind of experiment. After our experience with Chai Teahouse, we were wary of opening another dedicated tea shop in Edinburgh so we ran our wholesale and mail order from here too. If customers came in for retail and to drink it was a bonus. Our office was a small desk behind some shelving at the back and we stored all our tea in the basement. The shop has changed considerably since but you can still see that it is very much a concept store for experimentation in tea retail and serving.
By 2008 is was apparent to us that the market for specialty tea was not developed enough to sustain a licensed teahouse and retail store. We decided that we would close the Chai Teahouse. We regrouped and rebranded as PekoeTea and started again with more of a focus on our range of teas, provenance and quality. We started selling at local markets and fairs and continued to do this for the next two years.
Expanding on the retail shop, Chai Teahouse branched out and opened Edinburgh's first licensed teahouse. This was a completely new concept at the time serving a wide range of loose teas and alcoholic drinks. Chai Teahouse worked on pioneering alcoholic tea cocktails and cold tea infusions - something that has become more standard today. We are still proud to have been one of the first to do this in the UK.
After spending most of his free time in local teahouses while studying at Glasgow University, Jon Cooper decided he wanted to open a tea shop in Edinburgh. The idea was to import as many teas from source as possible. This prompted a visit to China to find suppliers. In December 2005 Chai Teahouse opened. It was Edinburgh's first teashop to have a range of directly imported high quality teas that could be bought by weight.