A new tea shop with a twist has opened in the Sunnyland neighborhood at 2025 James St., #103. The shop is inspired by the tabletop game, Dungeons and Dragons, and the space caters to those who play. The shop has tea and game accessories.
Travis Peacock, co-owner of D&Tea, has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 2015. At the time, he was playing in a campaign with the person who has become his best friend and business partner — Gideon Jones.
The pair wanted to take their love of the game to an entrepreneurial level. D&Tea began as an online venture, first in selling dice then specializing in tea, but a brick and mortar store has always been the end goal.
The company participates in Comic Conventions and has a lot of online sales. Peacock said that the costs associated with using a third party logistics provider and storage were more expensive than working out of their new location; the money saved gives them the opportunity to hone their vision for the store.
“One day at a convention, I was just looking around, and I just thought ‘D&Tea, that's our next business,’” Peacock said in an email. “I didn't know anything ABOUT tea at that point; my business partner is British so that helped, but we had to learn a lot to take a great pun and turn it into a full business.”
The store stocks a few items different from the ones on its website, including handmade leather and waxed canvas backpacks, a ceramic tea set, dice and more to come.
“Most days you can actually try our tea,” Peacock said. “We have hot tea made up and you can either get a whole cup with almond or oat milk for a very reasonable $2.50 or try little sample cups for free.”
Bellingham resident Zachary Leinen has been playing D&D for six years and said he looks forward to enjoying the space.
“The combination of D&D with anything is great,” Leinen said. “It can take a while so adding refreshments or snacks to the mix is a great idea.”
A highlight of the location is that the back half of the space is a secret speakeasy that will be available only to members. Peacock said that the goal is to provide exceptional experiences above all else. Like any other business owner, he wants to be profitable and support the community, but he said he would rather take the time to connect with one customer than make 10 meaningless sales.
“Our goal is to always strive to do better,” Peacock said, noting that the business hasn’t always been perfect. “That isn't to hand-wave away the past but rather to say that without the past, we can't learn to do better in the future. Apologize for when you screw up, own your mistakes and use them to be the best person and business you can be. That's my commitment to every customer.”
Peacock hopes that eventually D&Tea will expand into the community as more than just a space for tabletop gaming. They have already branched out in collaboration with local gaming bar Endgame.
“The more geeky places the better,” said Austin Sines of Endgame. “[We] absolutely love their products. A few of our cocktails have featured tea infused spirits from their amazing selection.”
Endgame is also part of the Bellingham D&D community. They have D&D Newbie sessions every Wednesday and rent out gaming tables and minis so customers can adventure on their own.
“I think more places to play D&D will always be appreciated,” Leinen said.
Eventually, Peacock wants to host events like weekly book readings or mini art showings that anyone can enjoy.
“I don't care if you've never played a game of D&D in your life or if you don't care about D&D at all and just want the tea we have something for everyone here,” Peacock said. “This is a gatekeeping-free establishment.”
D&Tea expects to have its grand opening on Jan. 1, 2023. They have been open for three months for e-commerce sales and support as well as a soft opening of the retail half of the store. On Dec. 1, they will expand their hours and open the speakeasy.
Zoe Wiley (she/her)
(firstname.lastname@example.org) is a news reporter for The Front and a combined environmental studies and journalism major at WWU. Her reporting interests include local business news, social issues, the environment and the arts. She enjoys illustration arts, photography, hiking and running.