Tea business growing for Keizer native

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Keizer native Matt Thomas, a 1997 McNary High School graduate, recently opened his fifth tea shop. (Photo courtesy Matt Thomas)

Keizer native Matt Thomas, a 1997 McNary High School graduate, recently opened his fifth tea shop. (Photo courtesy Matt Thomas)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Matt Thomas isn’t doing what he envisioned when he graduated from McNary High School in 1997.

Not that he’s complaining, mind you.

The owner of Portland-based Townshend’s Tea Company has three tea stores in Portland – much like a Starbucks, only selling tea instead of coffee – plus one each in Bend and Eugene. He also sells the Brew Dr. Kombucha tea at other locations, including the Growl Movement in Keizer.

The Eugene store is appropriate, since Thomas came up with the idea while studying at the University of Oregon.

The idea was a far cry from the ideal job Thomas envisioned for himself while in Keizer.

“I wanted to be a professional golfer,” said Thomas, who was a four-year letterman on varsity at MHS and played golf in college in Colorado. “But I saw there were a lot of good golfers when I went to Colorado. My dream kind of died. I didn’t really have a vision coming out of high school. I was very much a kid, just 17. Even when I opened my first store (in 2003), I was a kid. There are some things they just can’t teach you.”

The Keizer native majored in business at the UO. In a business strategy class, his group was asked to come up with a plan for serving an underserved market.

“My group came up with tea making and a college campus coffee-shop style business,” Thomas said. “A lot of places like that were opening at the time, but none for tea. That was the idea, to make a cool coffee shop but do it for tea.”

After graduating from the UO in 2002, Thomas took an office job but found he didn’t like the big office environment. So he decided to revisit the tea shop idea.


To read the complete article and other news from around the Keizer area, pick up a copy of the July 12 print edition of Keizertimes, available at stores all around the area. To subscribe to the print edition for just $25 a year, click on the ‘Subscribe Today’ link at the top of the page, call 503-390-1051 or visit our office at 142 Chemawa Road North in Keizer.

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