Leaves Tea and Book Shop
120 St. Louis Ave.
Fort Worth 76110
To check out Leaves before it opens:
Next pop-up event at M.A.D.E (Music. Art. Drinks. Eats.): An Open House Indoor Arts Festival
Stage West Theatre
821 W. Vickery Blvd.
Fort Worth 76104
July 30, 12 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Pay what you can, suggested $10
This fall there will be a new space for the Fort Worth community to pause, drink tea and read thought-provoking literature.
Tina Howard’s new family business, Leaves Book and Tea Shop, is set to open in the fall in Near Southside and comes on the heels of the closing of The Last Word Bookstore, a small independent bookstore on Jennings Avenue.
Howard said that she is saddened by The Last Word’s closing and that since her store is smaller she would have loved to have a partnership with them.
“Our whole vision for our shop is actually that we want to be a community gathering space where you’re encouraged to pause from the hectic pace of life,” said Howard. “We believe that tea and books are a really great way to be able to do that and so we want books that make you think or that encourage you to have a discussion with another real-life person.”
According to The Last Word’s Facebook page, the store closed on June 18 due to declining sales.
Howard said Leaves will sell a variety of books and tea. She plans to offer a small curated collection of both nonfiction and fiction books selected to inspire thought and discussion. While she will get books from distributors, Howard said that Leaves will also look at smaller independent publishers like Deep Vellum Publishing, a Dallas-based publisher of translated works.
The tea will all be loose leaf and brewed in house. It will include hot and iced teas, matcha, tea sodas and kombucha on tap.
The store will also help with tea education and possibly host tea tastings, although Howard said that there were no set plans for this yet. “We absolutely want to be able to educate people about it [tea],” said Howard. “We want tea to be accessible.”
The store will open at 120 St. Louis Ave. in the South Main Village area of Near Southside. Howard said the small business community there is collaborative and supportive and “not about competition.” She said she has met more tea drinkers in Near Southside and that it is a community that is focused on the arts, which helps support her dream of bringing a literary arts impact into the area.
“The more I can connect people with the beauty of the written word,” said Howard, “to be excited about that and for it to become more ingrained in our culture, if we can do that, that would be incredible.”
Formerly a freelance writer, she wants to invite writing groups and book clubs to use the space. “Writers have a special place in my heart,” she said.
The 750-square-foot store is set to open in the fall in the Dickson-Jenkins Lofts and Plaza, which is still under construction and will include condos, commercial spaces and a green space. Eddie Vanston is handling construction development.
Howard said that the idea for a combination of bookstore and tea shop came from a desire to open a bookstore and a need to add a product to the mix for sustainability. Since she and her mother both enjoy drinking tea, and because tea culture itself is about taking a break, Howard and her husband decided to open Leaves.
“The more I looked into it, tea culture is really about pausing and being in the moment and appreciating the process of making the tea as well as drinking the tea, and it went very closely with our vision,” said Howard
Howard, who recently ran her own photography business, will be joined in this endeavor by her husband, Todd, who manages physician recruitment for Radiology Associates. The couple has two young daughters.
She grew up in East Texas and met her husband, a Fort Worth native, at Austin College. They decided to move to Fort Worth and have been here for 16 years.
“The more I came to Fort Worth, the more I loved it,” said Howard. “Love the people and I hear it all the time but I love that it’s like a big city with a small-town feel.”
While waiting for construction to finish, Leaves has been active on social media on Instagram and Twitter (@leavesbooktea). She has also attended pop-up events to promote Leaves in Fort Worth such as Friday on the Green and a matcha (a type of powdered green tea) information session at Stir Crazy Baked Goods.
Howard is confident in her shop, saying that the independent bookselling industry is doing well overall and that “we’re also hoping that together [books and tea] that is a positive track of growth for us.”
“If what we can really do is create this space where someone can exhale and take a moment and be present in their own lives, that’s what we really would like to do,” said Howard. “We feel that is what allows people to be their most creative, be their most thoughtful … be better at who they are.”