Spanish foods importer La Tienda opened its first retail store on Dec. 10 in Williamsburg, VA. Other than its proximity to its headquarters in nearby Toano, VA, why Williamsburg?
“The Spaniards actually beat the Virginia Company to Jamestown by about 100 years, so there is a historical tie in,” says La Tienda owner Tim Harris.
While opening a retail store in an unstable economy comes with risks, the downturn brought some advantages. For instance, La Tienda was able to get a building in a good location at a great price.
“It even has a commercial kitchen and a bar area already built, which we hope to use for wine tastings, cooking classes and special events,” Harris said.
The store now employs two full-time managers and two part-time employees. The operation is overseen by Alexia Warner, La Tienda’s director of retail sales and customer service, who Harris says has an extensive retail background.
In addition to selling artisanal food, wine and hand-crafted ceramics from Spain, Harris said the store will host events aimed at engaging the community with Spanish cuisine.
Harris says that so far local residents have been supportive of the La Tienda store. He’s looking forward to seeing how well the location does when the tourist season hits next summer.
But even if La Tienda exceeds its goals in Williamsburg, Harris isn’t looking at mass expansion into bricks and mortar.
“We are approached all the time about doing a franchise of the La Tienda retail concept,” Harris says. “I suppose if we were approached by the right folks we would consider it, but at this time it is not in our plans.”