It's been only six months since Bob Holcepl opened his sleek Tea Lab shop (530 Euclid Ave., 216-650-7017) in the 5th Street Arcades, but he's already got number two in the on-deck circle. In early April, Holcepl will open a Tea Lab in Lakewood (14534 Detroit Rd.), next door to Aladdin's.
"Why am I opening another store so soon?" he asks. "Because public response has been very good. And the intent was always to think of it as a multi-store operation."
The retail tea shop will have the same contemporary look and feel of the original, he says, but at 600 square feet, it is roughly three times the size of the downtown shop, which is a petite 200 square feet.
"The small shop downtown was our proof of concept that people would support a simple, modern, no-frills tea store without all those other clichés that define tea shops," he explains. "My gut told me that a major core of my customer base would be millenials who would appreciate the simplicity of the place."
An expanded footprint will allow Holcepl to build better displays and add more hardware like teapots, teacups, steepers and water boilers. He'll also be able to fill mail orders from a roomy backroom. And while there will be a few places to sit and stand to drink tea, Tea Lab Lakewood will mainly be a retail store.
"You can't beat the big box guys on price; so you have to beat them on service and selection."