There's a new business that will soon be opening up in Lincoln Park's Craft District. The business is unique, selling spices, seasonings, salts, peppers, kinds of honey, an enormous variety of teas, gifts, and more.

I spoke with owners Ashley & Dennis Thielke today and asked what the business was all about, and when we can expect it to open.

Ashley & Dennis are both born and raised in the Northland. The story about how their business started is somewhat of fate. They were on a trip visiting family in Bozeman, Montana when they stumbled upon The Spice & Tea Exchange. They walked in and were amazed. There were so many unique spices from across the globe. They told me when you walk into The Spice & Tea Exchange, it's a sensory explosion with all the different smells, colors, and variety of products. It really looks amazing.

Spice & Tea Exchange
Spice & Tea Exchange
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Ashley left Dennis at the store after two hours and went to a nearby bar because Dennis didn't want to leave. A couple of hours later he walked out with $400 worth of product and said, "We really need one of these at home."

Spice & Tea Exchange
Spice & Tea Exchange
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Soon after they returned, they contacted The Spice & Tea Exchange about opening up their own franchise. It turns out there was quite the interview process to be able to get their own store. They had to apply, several phone interviews, and then a trip down to Florida headquarters where another 8-hour interview took place. The Spice & Tea Exchange has been growing steadily since 2008 and was recently named one of the best franchises to open. Things were looking good, but then life threw a curve ball at the family.

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Dennis was diagnosed with cancer, and for a year he fought the illness and put the dream of opening this business on the back burner. Fortunately, Dennis's health returned after the fight. Quite a bit of time had passed, and a year later the business idea still was on the backburner.

One day on a call with his daughter, she asked if he was still going to open up The Spice & Tea Exchange. It made him start thinking again. As fate would have it, The Spice & Tea headquarters called him the next day and asked why they hadn't heard from him in so long? It was a sign that this was the time to start.

They are currently waiting for their leased space to become available so they can start construction. They are hoping to begin work on the location before the end of July. Their goal is to open mid to late August. In the meantime, you can visit the website, select the Duluth store, and shop online.

While spices come first in the business name, tea is what they sell the most. They will be serving hot and iced tea "to go" at the location on Superior Street, along with the tea you can bring home and brew yourself. Ashley says if you aren't a typical tea drinker, trust them that you will find a tea you like.

The Spice & Tea Exchange
The Spice & Tea Exchange
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They have over 80 fresh loose leaf teas available from traditional blends to things like blue raspberry tea. They say they can even find a flavor your kids will like that's healthy for them that's all-natural and not sugary or syrupy.

The Spice & Tea Exchange
The Spice & Tea Exchange
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The spices are all imported fresh from across the globe, and they want to be able to help at-home cooks, professional chefs, and area restaurants with coming up with their own unique blends that they can trademark as their own. They already have 130 spice blends themselves, but encourage more creations. Customers can open and sniff any jar in the store to sample.

The Spice & Tea Exchange
The Spice & Tea Exchange
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Duluth is the first of their businesses to open. They already have plans in place for two other locations in Minnesota. One is set to open in Rochester, and the other location is still in discussion.

They're excited about having their business open and being a part of the community. They are planning on supporting local causes and charities monthly. They want to be able to donate money to cancer research, veterans' causes, animal rescues, and more.

The old saying is "Do what you love, and love what you do." I think that might be understating the passion of these excited new business owners. I can't wait to check them out.

The Spice & Tea Exchange will be located at 1929 West Superior Street.

Nick Cooper TSM
Nick Cooper TSM
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