The story behind Tea Shop YYC

Welcome to the tea party! 🏳️‍🌈

By Kristy Archibald | December 1, 2021 |2:09 am

Photo: Submitted

The Inglewood Night Market is a local event that has been taking place in the heart of historic Inglewood for over 10 years. As a result of its longstanding legacy, they have established a strong local community of small businesses, makers, artisans, and performers. In 2020 when all businesses were forced to pivot due to the pandemic, the organizers of the market decided to host a ‘Holiday Night Market’ in a safe and controlled environment that gave the local community a place to connect with Calgarians after a year of being apart.

The market went off without a hitch and was a huge success. Over 4,000 shoppers were filtered through the space (at a distance) where they had the opportunity to shop over 50 vendors for the holidays. This year, they decided to do it all over again — and we’re very happy they did!

Tea Shop YYC got its start at the Inglewood Night Market and since their rain-filled market debut, they’ve become a mainstay at the event. This is their second year popping up at the Holiday edition.

Being a visibly queer-owned and operated business, community is vitally important to them and their shop is more than just a place to buy tea and curated vintage ceramics — although they do have a phenomenal selection. We sat down with Co-Founder, Jayson Thompson to learn how they aim to promote a safe and accepting environment for all to shop, and how the Inglewood Night Market has been the perfect place to welcome everyone to the tea party!

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thomson: I’m an Arts graduate of Emily Carr University, I’ve travelled extensively trying to get a better perspective of the world we live in and I’ve always had a love of a good cup of tea. In the past, I’ve mainly only ever worked for small businesses as there is something so special about helping someone’s dream come to life. I currently work full time here in Calgary  at The Silk Road Spice Merchant on top of managing Tea Shop YYC

What’s the story behind Tea Shop YYC?

Thomson: Tea Shop YYC came out of a love for tea. My Nana had over 90 teapots on the top of her cupboards in her kitchen. I always used to look at them with fascination, it’s here where my love of kitsch was born. My  Grandfather would always enjoy an Earl Grey on Sundays while watching his favourite show, Coronation Street. I always liked that tea time with him even though I never knew what was happening on the show.

How has the Inglewood Night Market helped your business grow?

Thomson: The Inglewood Night Market is where Tea Shop YYC started. The first day was absolutely terrible; we were unprepared, we had the wrong canopy, it was pouring rain, but we made our first sale and it was amazing. Since then, we learned from our mistakes and took chances doing new things to find the right way to operate. We trusted that the Inglewood Night Market was our home and our family was the community that came to support our weird dream of a mobile tea company.

What do you love about the Night Market community?

Thomson: The Inglewood Night Market has a very relaxed and funky shopping environment.  I feel like this is reflected in the community that attends the event also.  Everyone is a character. The vendors are passionate and proudly selling something they made, and the patrons just want to support that passion. It’s just a wonderful pairing of energies. Everyone has a great time.

What are you most excited for at this year’s Holiday Edition Night Market?

Thomson: This is our second year attending the Holiday Night Market. It’s such an amazing experience. I feel like everyone is really excited to shop for the holidays and to plainly get out of the house and do something completely different.

What are three tips you have for shoppers who haven’t attended in the past?

Thomson: Do one full walk-through before buying anything! If you’re forgetful like me, take notes on your phone! Bring a reusable shopping bag or two, very handy to have and is environmentally conscious! Debit and credit are great forms of payment, but always bring cash. It keeps money flowing in the local economy and community.

Last but not least, how would you describe ‘Community?’

Thomson: Tea Shop YYC is a visible queer-owned and operated business. This is incredibly important for us. We may only sell tea, but we always want to make sure that we promote a safe and accepting environment for all to shop. We’ve had individuals in the LGBTQIA2S+ community come up to us and thank us for being so visible and for giving them a positive experience. For us , community means that everyone is welcome to the tea party.

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Kristy Archibald

Contributor at Calgary Citizen

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