LETTER FROM THE OWNER
January 14, 2020
It is with deep regret I announce that plans are underway to close the Dragonfly Tea Room. We have only just started looking for another business to take over the space and lease in Roseburg Square, so a final closing date is uncertain at this time. I am telling you this now because, along with this, a reduction in staff is necessary; only one staff member will remain (in addition to myself). Therefore, the hours, services, and menu options will need to change. Our hours will remain 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday. The number of customers admitted during those hours will be limited to what can be handled by the two of us. The Café Menu and Afternoon Tea will be available. Traditional Afternoon Tea will still require a reservation. Saturdays will be only for those with reservations for Afternoon Tea which will include Traditional Afternoon Tea, Classic Afternoon Tea, and Petite Tea (for children) and those making retail purchases. For now, we will only be taking reservations for January. What will happen in February and beyond is up in the air.
If you want more details, keep reading:
As for the reasons for closing, it all comes down to money. While the money side of the business was a struggle well before we even opened, it became particularly difficult from the months of June through November (2019) when business slowed to a trickle. Six months of well below the break-even point was more than this fledgling business could endure. We hung on by basically “taking from Peter to pay Paul.” At some point Peter needs to be paid. We hung on with the hopes that the holidays and the Jane Austen event would be enough to make up the deficit, but it is clear now that the only way to acquire the amount of money needed is to sell the property and use the proceeds to pay what is owed.
In addition to the above reason, I am personally weary. I work long hours, often 10 to 12-hour days. I get home at the end of a day exhausted and I go straight to bed, then I get up and do it again. I wouldn’t mind the long hours quite so much if I was paid, but the business has never been in a position where I could take a wage. For awhile I was able to pay staff to share the workload, but with the slow six months, I lost most of my staff. I basically have no life outside of the tea room, except Sunday and Monday that I stingily have kept for my mental health. Many friends and family and personal interests have been pushed to the back shelf for too long.
The tea room was not a life-long dream, however, I did consider it a second career. For the 6 years before the tea room opened I devoted my time to learning about tea (taking classes, attending the World Tea Expo, making contacts with people in the world of tea), learning how to do business, selling my tea at the farmers market, developing menus and acquiring recipes, doing in-home tea parties, all with the goal of opening a tea room. It has been a joy to see what has been accomplished with all that hard work. When I look around the tea room and I see people enjoying the experience of Afternoon Tea, of marveling at all the different options of tea, of enjoying quiet conversation, in a place that is unique, I know the Dragonfly Tea Room is a special place. The loyal customers and friends of the tea room are the icing on the cake.
Many of you know I am woman of faith. God has been at the center of this journey from the start and I credit Him with planting the idea in my head and heart. However, it has not been a smooth journey, by any means, especially the construction and once the doors opened. I have had many heated conversations with God about why things have been so difficult. Some of the problems were my own poor decisions. Other problems are just part of being in business that need to be worked through. However, many problems were not easily dealt with and I have felt like God has left me dangling in the wind. When I first opened the tea room, I wrote a prayer modeled after the prayer of Jabez. Here it is:
” I, Judy, call on God, the LORD of my life, saying: Oh that You would bless me indeed, that You would prosper my business, that You would multiply the work of my hands, that my work would be fruitful, yielding a bounty beyond human expectation. That Your Hand would be with me, that I would have favor from You, that opportunities would come to me, that doors would open to me, that I would have wisdom and knowledge to run, manage, and grow the business. That You would keep me from harm, protect me from people with evil intent, give me discernment and wisdom to avoid bad decisions. That I would be a blessing to others: my employees, my customers, my family, those who have helped me, the community, and those in need.” This has been my prayer.
I have struggled that so much of that prayer has not come to fruition. I don’t understand why, if God is on my side, have things gone so poorly. As expected, such significant financial struggle is very stressful. However, it was around August that I started experiencing peace in the midst of the struggle. The message I repeatedly heard from God was “I AM in control of your circumstances.” That became my mantra every time circumstances started to overwhelm me. Around October I decided that January was going to be decision time. Without significant financial help, we would not be able to continue. The holidays helped to stabilize our finances, and the Jane Austen event did make a dent in the deficit. (In fact, more such events could turn the tide.) Even as I write this letter, I still pray for a miracle, that He will “rain down blessings from Heaven.” I would like to see the tea room prosper and thrive, that all the hard work will not be wasted, but it will only happen with God’s help. All my long hours and hard work won’t be enough. Only God can “make a way where there seems to be no way.” My God is the God of Miracles. He doesn’t always do miracles; sometimes He just walks beside us through the struggles, but sometimes He does do miracles.