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Spice & Tea Exchange brews downtown flavor

SALISBURY — If variety is your spice of life, you may find it at a new downtown tea shop.

On July 4, The Spice & Tea Exchange opened at 115 N. Main St., its owners aiming to draw people downtown.

The shop has scheduled a grand opening on Sept. 24 with the theme “Fall Into Flavor.”

With a variety of spices and teas, the shop’s staff will help customers find the flavor they are seeking.

The shop will open a new world for Salisbury residents by showing people what can be done with tea, said co-owner Allen Milem.

“Creating and sharing the experience of a more flavorful life” is the franchise’s mission and the goal of opening the shop in Salisbury, said co-owner Dionna Milem. It’s about the whole experience, she said.

There are so many health benefits to the shop’s lineup of products, Allen said, and the Milems want customers to learn. And “we want to learn from everyone else,” he said.

The spice blends include Tuscany Blend, Carolina Sunshine and Everyday Salt Blend.

In addition to packaged teas and spices, customers will be able to buy a cup of tea at the shop’s tea bar. Any tea on sale will be available for guests to try.

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The Milems are China Grove residents who grew up in Salisbury. They have been together for 33 years and married for 26.

“She has had her career, and I have had mine,” Allen said.

Their daughter, Emma, left for college about a year ago. One of the driving reasons to open the shop was to find a way to spend more time together, they said.

“We enjoy doing stuff together,” Allen said. “She is more fine-detailed. I am more big picture.”

Because of this, the two said they complement each other well.

The idea for the shop came after the two stumbled onto a Spice & Tea Exchange franchise during a Florida vacation last June. Dionna fell in love with the shop and its products. She began thinking to herself, “Where are these stores?”

After finding out it was a franchise, the two thought about how to make owning their own shop a reality.

The fact that custom spices are blended directly in the shop makes the franchise unique, Dionna said.

“There was no type of shop” where you get the “smell sensation” of Spice & Tea Exchange, Allen said.

Asked why they chose Salisbury, Dionna said the idea came after Googling “small, quaint towns in North Carolina.”

Salisbury was one of the two towns in the Piedmont that met the criteria, she said.

“What we liked was the quaintness of a small town. … Salisbury was a spot that a lot of people come to see,” Allen added.

“You have got kinda a sleepy little town here that has a lot to offer to people all over the place,” Allen said. Salisbury has “its own character that makes it unique outside of a big city.”

The Milems said they found the perfect storefront. Its old architecture and character played into the theme of the franchise.

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Business has been good since opening.

“We had a goal set for every day,” Allen said.

The two set personal goals, and meeting them showed Dionna and Allen that the shop would be successful in Salisbury on a day-to-day basis.

They have had steady waves of curious and knowledgable customers, Allen said.

Already, people from California, Florida and New York have come by the shop while visiting Salisbury, the two said. People from Winston-Salem and Charlotte visited the shop, as well.

The process of opening has been a community experience, Allen said. Dionna added that the journey also has been a lot of fun.

Contact reporter Samuel Motley at 704-797-4264. 

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