I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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Canyon Road, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is essentially a mile long strip of nothing but art galleries, with a few restaurants scattered about. From the bottom of the hill at Paseo De Peralta, on either side of the street, you are surrounded by galleries. We are talking art from every walk of life: every age, every style, every medium, anything you can imagine in the realm of art can be found on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I worked, for just under a year, at Adobe Gallery. The fourth gallery, on the right, at the bottom of the hill, near Paseo. Adobe Gallery focuses on Native American art, and more specifically Native American historic pottery, while I was there I saw some of the most amazing pieces of historic pots that I could have imagined. And I learned a great deal about the artists and the pueblos in the area that were producing them. It’s amazing to me because until Maria Martinez in the 1920’s the pottery: the hours spent gathering clay, water, forming the pot, and painting the pot, the artistic aspect were for the sake, only, of doing it. These pots were never intended to be sold, or appreciated, only used, by the families that made them. Maria Martinez changed all that when she discovered that there was a market for the design and the art outside of the pueblos.
I was responsible for staging, photographing, writing, and marketing. I was the Marketing Manager. I was there to learn as much as I could about the marketing aspect of sales. I learned a great deal about photography for sales, writing press releases, using Photoshop, and working with advertisers and publishers, from that perspective. I love the job, actually. The only thing I didn’t like about it was Todd. The “Advertising Manager,” he called himself, I’m not going to get too involved talking about him, but he was the sole reason that I left that position when I did—even though I took it merely to learn about that side of business. And, thanks to Al, the gallery owner, I did learn a great deal.
At the top of the hill, after you pass the last gallery, tucked away on the right hand side of the road, there is a restaurant, El Farol. It was one of my favorite restaurant/bars in Santa Fe, and not because of the food, though the food was pretty fantastic. I was more partial to the building itself, the design, and the bar, and trivia night, and Flamenco night…El Farol has been in Santa Fe since 1835—that’s not a typo, I didn’t mean 1935, and with a slip of the finger, and some degree of neglect, which does occur from time-to-time, I typed an “8.” A large group of us would sit at El Farol once a week and try our hand at some prize winning trivia. Incidentally, every Wednesday night, here in Boerne, some of ‘us,’ meet at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and play the same nationally recognized trivia game.
Directly across the street from El Farol is The Teahouse. I spent a lot of time here, at The Teahouse. And one of my best friends, Justine, and I would meet there more often than anywhere in Santa Fe. It’s at The Teahouse that I have the fondest memory of Samayya, an ex of mine, and a situation that did not produce a lot of fond memories. The Teahouse had a nice patio though it wasn’t particular comfortable—intentional, maybe, to keep people from staying too long?—and several nooks inside, though it wasn’t particularly comfortable either. The best thing, in my opinion, about The Teahouse, was that they had around 80 different types of teas!
They had various Black teas, Green teas, Flower teas, Infused teas, Matcha’s, Mate’s, Herbal, and more, and every time I went I ordered a different tea. My favorites were the Pu Erh’s, and, more specifically, the Aged Pu Erh’s!
Depending on the location, the demographics, the population, the income, etc., etc., etc., a used bookstore may or may not, support itself, as a bookstore only. As the demand for print, and books continues to rise in the United States, and as we see more and more used bookstores opening their doors all over the country, many of us might recognize, too, that with each bookstore the owner might put a little bit of her, or himself in the strategy as well. We begin to see bookstores coupled with Bike Shops, Vinyl, or even various, random nostalgia; the most common pairing is, of course, coffee. A bookstore/coffeehouse is a fairly common site when visiting new stores opening up.
CommuniTea Books, however, is, as the name might imply, an idea that came to me while sitting one afternoon at The Teahouse in Santa Fe.
Everything I that don’t like about The Teahouse, or other coffeehouses that I’ve been to in Boerne, or throughout the country has allowed me to develop something altogether unique. Why is it that the best and most unique things about coffeehouse is what singles out our favorites, while most coffeehouses still manage to maintain the same unpleasant, strange, stupid, or annoying systems as well? That has never made sense to me. Some might say that it’s those systems that allow a coffeehouse, or a business, in general, to function, but it’s not. It’s not. Those system are merely another system that business owners choose to adopt. Being creative, and even innovative when exploring, and developing an idea is what allows those business to stand out.
CommuniTea Books has more than 80 different types of teas from four different distributors around the world. There are teas that The Teahouse offers that I have intentional, and personally sought out in order to sell at CommuniTea Books, but the majority of my tea menu is different, as far as the specific teas. But, teas! Teas are as unique and individualistic, and interesting as independently owned bookstores, as the eccentricities of a person. Everybody, of course, is familiar with tea: you might enjoy a cup of English Breakfast or Earl Grey in the morning, or Chamomile at night, or Peppermint or some infusion, when you’re feeling sick, but the exclusivity of a teahouse, and one that offers so many different types of teas, is incredible exceptional.