Merchant of the Month: Capital Teas

Each month we like to spotlight our merchants who have found success by running the businesses that they love. Read on to find out how a brick and mortar tea shop started a hot online business.

Tea Time

Capital Teas opened its first brick and mortar location in 2007 in Annapolis, MD. Co-founder Peter Martino — who is also the Chairman and CEO — drew inspiration for the business from his grandfather, who was a master chef. In the same vein, Capital Teas aims to provide an inspiring and delicious culinary experience for their own customers with over 220 types of high-end, specialty loose teas. “We want to make tea brewing fun, easy accessible and something that someone from 10 years old to 100 years old can do,” Martino said.

We want to make tea brewing fun, easy accessible and something that someone from 10 years old to 100 years old can do.

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## Growing Online

At first the Capital Teas website was “a bit of an afterthought,” says Martino, but he eventually decided to expand sales into the digital realm. “[Nowadays] the world of ecommerce is more important than the world of brick and mortar stores,” he said. “We’ve had to shift our dynamic a little bit for how we educate and inspire from having customers taste and smell in a store to having a website or a mobile site and being able to understand what the teas are like.”

[Nowadays] the world of ecommerce is more important than the world of brick and mortar stores.

Martino set up his store with Volusion in 2011, and has seen nothing but success since. Even though customers can’t try the teas in-person, Capital Teas’ online store has managed to be a success by providing videos, testimonials, and free samples in every order they ship out. Their internal growth has grown more than 50% year over year for five years straight, and next year they’re hoping to grow in excess of 100%.

Their internal growth has grown more than 50% year over year for five years straight, and next year they’re hoping to grow in excess of 100%.

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## Steeping it Fresh

Martino says that having an ecommerce store has changed business in a number of positive ways. “What’s powerful about having an effective ecommerce solution is that our customers have gone from just a few locals by our stores to a truly global audience,” he said. “By trying new things and keeping what works, we’re better able to educate and inspire customers.”