- September 6, 2021
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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Spice & Tea Exchange, Gloria Jean’s Coffee, Jamba Juice and Chop Shop open; The Pink Sheep Boutique plans expansion
The Spice & Tea Exchange has brought spices, rubs and loose leaf teas to downtown Valparaiso.
Franchisee Tina St. Aubin opened the culinary and tea shop with a tea bar at 161 Lincolnway in Valparaiso a few years ago. It’s a Florida-based company that sells salts, sugars, rubs, blends, and of course, its namesake spices and teas.
“We have loose leaf teas — black teas, green teas, herbal teas, mate teas,” she said. “There’s all different caffeinated and noncaffeinated teas. They have some health benefits. They can be served as refreshing cold teas or a soothing cup of steeped hot tea.”
The Spice & Tea Exchange has a tea bar that serves all 50 teas available for purchase in the store, including seasonal varieties.
“It’s rotating,” St. Aubin said. “We’ll add to it as we go. We’ll have seasonal teas.”
St. Aubin did extensive renovations to the space that was previously home to AMA Design & Print, so it has a modern look with a trading post theme.
“I love to cook and this comes from my love to cook,” she said. “I’ve worked downtown for years. Valparaiso is where I was born and raised. This is where I wanted to be.”
The store sells cookbooks, kitchen accessories and spices by the ounce. A best seller is the Tuscany blend.
“It’s Italian seasoning that could be used to spice anything up, whether pork or chicken,” she said. “A lot of our spice blends are versatile. They can be used before putting brisket in the smoker or chicken in the oven or before making dessert. We have international spices such as several curries. You can use your imagination.”
St. Aubin is making a midlife career change.
“I have a lot of business owners in my family, and now I’ve become a business owner, too,” she said.
The Spice & Tea Exchange is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call (219) 615-3162, visit www.spiceandtea.com, or find the business on Facebook.
A hybrid Gloria Jeans/Jamba Juice now is bringing coffee and fresh juice to Cedar Lake.
The drive-thru-only Gloria Jeans/Jamba Juice is located at 9751 Lincoln Plaza in the Summer Winds Plaza next to the Strack & Van Til supermarket. It also has a pickup window and patio seating for outdoor dining.
The same local franchisees who opened the hybrid Gloria Jeans/Jamba Juice at 122 E. 129th St. in Crown Point in 2019 opened the new joint restaurant in Cedar Lake and also are eying locations in Schererville, Merrillville and Valparaiso.
The new Gloria Jeans/Jamba Juice in a newly built strip mall in Cedar Lake offers freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, smoothies bowls with granola and fresh fruit and a wide variety of flavored coffees. It also carries a light food menu that includes bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
The Chop Shop salon cut hair for nearly 30 years in Lansing and now has relocated to downtown Schererville.
The full-service hair salon moved to 717 Main St., where it employs about 25 people.
“All the employees of the salon came over as did most of the clients,” owner Laura Smith said. “We’re also accepting new clients. We always welcome new business.”
Given its location by the state line, it always served customers in both Illinois and Indiana.
“This is to a good central location to keep Illinois customers and get new ones,” she said. “We’re not exactly a far distance from Illinois. We’ve always had a great following from Indiana, being right in the middle.”
The business started as a three-chair salon and now employs dozens of stylists in a 1,850 space previously occupied by Salon Delux in Schererville.
“We relocated just because we wanted something fresh,” Smith said. “This has the right amount of traffic, but it’s not too congested.”
Chop Shop has prospered over the years because of the way they treat customers, she said.
“I feel that we are more of a family than just co-workers,” she said. “We make sure we treat our customers the same way. We keep growing. The longevity of our business is just because we continue to grow and continue to evolve our services to whatever the market demands.”
Smith said her staff always is working on self-improvement and professional development.
“We have tons of staff with lots of experience and a lot of knowledge in the industry,” she said. “We like to be creative and try new things. We continually take education and classes and keep up with the trends.”
Chop Shop is open for walk-ins, but reservations are recommended.
The business is open from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call 708-418-3730, visit chopshophairsalon.com or find the business on Facebook and Instagram.
The Pink Sheep opened in downtown LaPorte a year ago and is looking at opening a second location in downtown Hobart.
Owner Patricia Pearson started the children’s boutique about 10 years ago in Crown Point before moving it to Cedar Lake and finally LaPorte after finding the store of her dreams. The Pink Sheep Boutique, named after a pet sheep she and her husband joked about dying pink for Easter that her then 3-year-old daughter named Lamb-y, occupies a 2,500-square-foot space at 604 Lincolnway.
It was previously home to the Toy Parade but has been abandoned for years.
“We’re a kids clothing shop in downtown LaPorte,” she said. “We just added adult T-shirts. We have a giant room full of bows. I’m pretty sure we hold the record for biggest bow room in the state. It’s a fun experience. It’s pretty crazy.”
Pearson originally started the business for children with sensory issues after having her daughter. She made everything by hand at first, using special softer threads.
The Pink Sheep now carries clothes for children of all ages and adults of all sizes. It has leggings, dresses and T-shirts with slogans like “I’m the mom the other moms warned you about,” “All about the hot mess express” and “Be Kind. It’s gangster.”
“We started carrying adult clothes because almost everyone who came in asked if we had any,” she said.
Pearson designs most of the shirts herself.
“It’s all fun and upbeat,” she said. “I have a lot of stuff like Golden Girls for the little kids. Or horror like Jason for kids. It’s stuff that’s unique. We want people to walk in and find stuff they’ve never seen, stuff they can’t find in Target.”
The store has a sticker machine from the Hammond Roller Dome, where kids can get free stickers, such as of Mickey Mouse, Frozen, Pokemon and Super Mario Brothers. Its 360-foot bow room has close to 3,000 different bows, 10 different kinds of headbands, scrunchies and snap clips.
“At first we made bows to match the outfit,” she said. “Then it took a life of its own.”
The story carries items from local vendors, including bath bombs. The Pink Sheep also takes place in craft shows around the Midwest, including Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Pearson wants to expand to Hobart, where the shop likely would locate downtown.
“We want to stick to the downtown scene,” she said. “We’re drawn to downtowns. When the malls came, downtowns died, but now they’re coming back. You used to be able to find everything downtown, and we want to help bring that back. You usually can’t find kids’ clothes downtown anymore.”
She likes her location next to the splash pad in downtown LaPorte.
“Downtown LaPorte is up and coming,” she said. “It’s very chill. It’s nice out here.”
The Pink Sheep is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit thepinksheepbahhhtique.com, call (219) 888-8089 or find the business on Facebook.
If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.
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