Queen's Pantry Teas has been part of the Leavenworth community for almost 20 years.
By RIMSIE McCONIGA
Queen’s Pantry Teas has been part of the Leavenworth community for almost 20 years. The store, which carries unique British goods, has offered local residents the chance to shop for items that for the most part, would not be found in the area, such as one of the largest selections of tea in the Midwest.
The store was recently honored by being featured in the national, award-winning publication, TeaTime Magazine. The magazine was focusing on tea stores in the Kansas City area and contacted Queen’s Pantry Teas’ owner Kathy Gentzler and her husband, Kevin, about featuring the store in their fall 2018 issue.
Kathy thinks the story will be a great way to bring a greater awareness to local businesses in Leavenworth.
“Small community businesses thrive on word of mouth. Every time we have new shoppers come to the shop we always encourage them to stay in town and shop around at the other local stores,” she said.
In 2011, when Kathy’s oldest daughter was working at Queen’s Pantry Teas, which was then owned by Anita Maynard, she was told that the store would likely be closing and suggested that Kathy and Kevin consider buying the shop as a family business.
“We thought and prayed about the idea and decided it fit our family and what we wanted to do,” says Kathy. “So we made the plunge.”
Kathy isn’t surprised that when the shop first opened with six jars of loose-leaf tea and a few shelves of groceries from the U.K. that Leavenworth embraced this British store and it continued to grow over the years.
“I think people appreciate being able to find a good quality assortment of teas,” she said. “It is a much different experience being able to come into the shop to see and smell the teas before you buy them. Also we always have teas to sample when you come into the store. Add to that you can find some unique British goods, candies and other gift items for special occasions and the shop just fills a niche in the area. Those differences in our business have helped it to have staying power in Leavenworth over the years.”
A deli, tea room and full-service restaurant were added, but about 10 years ago the shop went back to only selling British goods. But over the years, the retail choices have grown and the shop carries many different items including teapots, a selection of china cups and mugs, British candies and groceries, hand-knitted scarves, candles and cards. Customer favorites include the Dunoon mugs, Washi tea tins and matching accessories along with many sweets and British cookies.
Kevin is a retired Army veteran and teaches at the Command and General Staff College. The Gentzlers moved to Leavenworth in 2008. A large number of the store’s customers are people who serve in the military.
“That love of travel and adventure in the military community helps,” says Kathy. “We certainly do have a portion of our clientele that are still serving in the military as well as many retirees. But a large portion of our customers are folks who appreciate good tea, like to try new things and, of course, we have plenty of Anglophiles, those who love all things British, and a number of expatriates as well.”
Tea is one of the store’s specialties and a wide variety is available.
“Right now we have 165 loose teas and about 100 different boxed teas,” says Kathy. “Our best selling loose-leaf teas are Cinnamon Orange Spice, Carrot Cake Rooibos and Queen’s Birthday Cake. We carry a wide selection of tea accessories such as tea infusers, disposable paper infusers, tea timers and tea cozies.”
Studies have shown that tea contains antioxidants and has less caffeine than coffee.
Tea may reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes. Tea could also help keep bones strong and boost the immune system.
Americans are discovering the invigorating varieties and health benefits of teas from around the world. Kathy thinks more Americans are catching up with the worldwide tea drinking trend.
Tea is now the most popular beverage in the world after water.
Kathy says she enjoys the many challenges that have come up over the years because they have pushed her to learn more about the industry and gain new skills.
For now, she is anticipating the fast-approaching holiday shopping season and the opportunity to help people add some British treats to their Christmas festivities.