Las Vegas’ diverse market spices up the tea business

Owners Cheryl and Richard Sheffield pose at Sheffield Spice & Tea Co., 9875 S. Eastern Ave., Monday Aug. 4, 2014.

The Sheffield Spice & Tea Co.

Owners Cheryl and Richard Sheffield pose at Sheffield Spice & Tea Co., 9875 S. Eastern Ave., Monday Aug. 4, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Describe your business.

We’re a Las Vegas-based retail store and wholesale distributor of fine spices, exquisite teas, flavored oils and vinegars, specialty gourmet foods, and all spice and tea accessories. We believe that fine spices and teas don’t have to be expensive.

Who are your customers?

Many, from the everyday cook to the professional chef and restaurant owner. In between we have the “weekend warrior” who grills for fun. We also have the foodie, always looking for new or exotic spices and teas, and the cooks who just want to find something new to put in front of their families. For our teas, we have those who are just discovering the pleasure and varieties of tea. We also have seasoned tea drinkers whom we can learn from, as they have been students of tea for many years. Some are looking for the health benefits of tea, while others just want a good-tasting beverage. For both spices and teas, we have customers of all ages, men and women, as well as all professions and backgrounds.

Sheffield Spice & Tea Co.

Address: 9875 S. Eastern Ave., Suite E-2, Las Vegas, NV 89183

Phone: 702-877-4237 (8SPICES)

Email: [email protected]


Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Owned/operated by: Cheryl and Dick Sheffield

In business since: May 1, 2013

How did you become interested in spices and teas?

We each grew up drinking tea and are half British by heritage, so the love for tea comes naturally. We both love the fine dining experience as well as good, basic, home-style cooking. Rick has been into gourmet cooking from a young age. Gourmet cooking requires many spices not found in grocery stores, so Rick would buy his spices from any number of spices stores and suppliers around the country. Cheryl was always willing to try new foods, so our pantry kept expanding with more and more spices and teas.

What products do you sell other than spices and teas?

We sell a generous selection of flavored oils and vinegars, which are great for cooking and garnishing; several oil and vinegar cruets; salt and pepper grinders; a variety of teapots; cozies to keep a pot warm; and many tea accessories. We also have scones and lemon curd. This line complements our teas, which make for a more complete experience.

What makes your business unique?

Our product mix and how we present our store to the market. Many of our customers are surprised that we are the owners, that we are not part of a national chain and that we aren’t in multiple states yet. All this and how we are perceived are part of our original business plan. Part of Rick’s 30-year practice as a financial adviser involves consulting family-owned and closely held businesses on how to stay in business and not get caught in the pitfalls, which cause many businesses to fail over time.

What’s the most important part of your job?

Providing quality products at reasonable prices and educating our customers in their uses. This might be how to make a cup of tea using loose tea or the variety of dishes in which you can use a particular spice blend.

What is the hardest part about doing business in Las Vegas?

For us, it’s finding the right locations for expansion. While there is a glut of vacant storefronts, for our business it does come down to location for us to be able to reach our target markets.

What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?

We enjoy that our customers love us and we love them. They have embraced us and our store and want us to succeed. Cheryl has been in Las Vegas for over 30 years, but until you get involved on a very local level, do you really understand the dynamics of the valley? Also we love the ability to find all the target markets we want to reach. Las Vegas is such a diverse market.

What obstacles has your business overcome?

The main one all new businesses face, including us, is just getting started and having customers find you as soon as you open. You have to fund the store, get it open and then work at building the business. Most “mom and pop” stores can go out of business real fast if you don’t know what you are doing, have the funds to stay in business or know how to reach their customers.

How can Nevada improve its business climate?

Understanding what it takes to be in business doesn’t come naturally to most people. Rick has held many seminars over the years that teach aspiring and existing business owners what it takes to start a business, then how to stay in business, then how to involve family and others in order to pass the business on at some point. Nevada needs to set up a system that makes classes available almost in a semi-mandatory type of way so that aspiring business owners understand the mechanics of starting a business as well as the risks and other pitfalls. Involve banks, entrepreneurial groups, current business leaders and other type of companies necessary to start a company. While you can’t force them to attend, we believe that many don’t know what it costs or takes just in the preliminary work and how they can go out of business before they open the doors. This is one way to help foster a positive business environment and even attract new businesses.

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