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Tea and coffee specialists. Find your favourite blend of tea or coffee or surprise a friend with a delightful gift box for afternoon tea time.

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      10.12.2008 21:46
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      High quality products and top retail staff!

      In 2006 Ringtons of Newcastle joined the modern era and opened retail stores in the south of England. In order they are Cambridge, Canterbury, Brighton, Exeter and Kingston. Pretty wide spread so you wont be seeing them on every high street. From what I've learnt, the locations were decided upon due to their historical grounding as geographic location, as there is no door to door delivery service serving these areas. Probably the most important thing to note is that if you have had the door to door service, the products you find in the stores are totally different (apart from the ginger snaps, brazil nut biscuits, triple choc cookies and the sultana cookies)...... The stores themselves are an excellent blend of historical throwbacks such as their heritage range of products, with vintage prints on items such as tea caddies and tea towels, and with loose leaf tea and coffee beans ground and weighed to order. All their products are created in the same warehouse but the products are designed for the high street retailer, who could be considered more adventurous, and looking for a more complete experience in terms of equipment lines and food stuffs, whereas the door to doo service is more based on the element of customer service. Thats not to say that the stores arent. In actual fact, I've never known a small scale retailer (or large scale for that matter) to provide the same levels of service. There is no pouncing on customers, the atmospheres are very calm and serene, and there is so much to look at! The staff themselves are kitted out in black, with baristas aprons, another throwback back to yester-years's retail traders. They have a vast array of knowledge regarding their products and anything they dont know, they go above and beyond to discover the information for you. They have access to the information from their head office about every ingredient in their teas and coffees including origins and they even name the estates that the goods come from. Where else can you find that kind of information, so openly. During the quieter months of the year (i.e not November/December) there are always tastings available, teas, coffees and sometimes even hot chocolate which is a great way of welcoming people into their stores, and allowing the more timid consumer to sample their products, broaden their horizons... They also offer a reward card scheme, whereby every time you visit the store and purchase tea/coffee product you are given a stamp, and when that card is full, it can be used as a £5 voucher! The best thing is, you can use the voucher against anything, not just tea and coffee. Which is a really good return... All their bags are made from recycled paper, and the staff I spoke to have a great sense of pride in being more responsible retailers. They will gladly refill your previous tea/coffee bags, thus creating less space, all paper/cardboard is sent for recycling, the large ceiling lamps which light the till area are all energy saving bulbs. They do not sell FairTrade products, but they are all sourced directly from estates/farms, and as they name all their producers, any consumer can research from that information. The staff were more than happy to provide me with information relating to their sourcing of products, and the Ethical Trading Initiative, to which they subscribe. I will also able to read (without any pressure/foot tapping) all the information and the staff were so helpful and chatty, I leave feeling valued as a customer.... One downside is that the stores only have one till which at this time of year can lead to a brief wait, but the staff are always efficient and I'm always thanked for my patience. But for really good tea and coffee I dont mind waiting. The staff are always on hand to provide help and advice for products which might suit you, even to those really annoying people (like me) who simply say I'd like some tea but I dont know which one..... how vague????!!!! They have the patience of saints and its a pleasure to be served by them! There are also lots of great gift ideas for those really difficult people to buy for, and foodie bits always go down well. The staff will help you select gifts using their knowledge or you can wander round with a basket and pick your own and they will happily create a hamper, gift box, or gift bag for your good (some have a charge but its all pretty reasonable), they'll even gift wrap! Few places on the high street offer this level of service, and thats sad in itself, but at least we've got Ringtons, I just wish other high streets could be as lucky as mine!

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