It’s not often that a business can begin in the blink of an eye, but with a lightning bulb idea in late January and just a dash of serendipity, local couple Corinn Crawford and Chris Galeano were able to open up The Ridge – Tea & Spice Shop located at 9 North Chestnut Street in just around two months. And since it’s grand opening on March 27, the shop has been brewing up what turns out to be exactly what New Paltz needed.
For years, Crawford and Galeano knew they wanted to own a business together. Throughout his life, Galeano has always had his eye out for new business ventures, often announcing to Crawford how “this place should have a juice bar, this place should have a yoga studio.”
After moving to Napanoch, NY from the city at the start of the pandemic, the couple would often travel to New Paltz to visit. After spotting the location on Chestnut street up for lease, Galeano was suddenly struck with the idea for yet another business opportunity.
“When I saw this space I just kind of had a vision,” explained Galeano, “I just stopped and peaked in with my head, and I just had so clear [a] vision of what I wanted.”
The couple were always aware of how a bulk tea and spice shop seemed to be missing from our town even though New Paltz seemed to be the perfect demographic for it. With the couple’s extensive knowledge of tea, from Galeano’s long-standing fascination and admiration of the beverage and Crawford’s recent reading up on the unique health benefits of the drink, mixed with a serendipitously quick approval from the location’s landlord — everything finally started to snap into place.
“We’ve always had a vision we’d own a business together, we just weren’t sure what it would be,” said Crawford, “but it makes sense now, now we’re like ‘oh, this is definitely what we were supposed to be doing.’”
The idea for The Ridge may have started when the couple saw a need for a bulk tea shop in New Paltz, one that served fresh drinks as well as loose tea, but their main goal when opening this business was truly to create a welcoming place for the whole community.
“It sounds so cheesy but I want the place to feel like a hug.” Galeano said, “You know, as soon as you step in, we’re there.”
One of the couple’s favorite things about their customers is how different each one of them has been. Ranging from “hard-core tea drinkers,” as Crawford described, who may come in, head straight for the exact bag of loose tea they want and that’s it, to individuals such as one customer Crawford described who came in and said they had no idea what they wanted, that they just wanted to start drinking more tea.
“That’s something that I’ve always wanted to have, a place [where] all kinds of people can walk in and be welcome,” said Galeano, “It doesn’t matter your background, it doesn’t matter what you drink, we’ll come to this place to make it a unique experience for every individual that walks in.”
Even though The Ridge has only been open for less than a week, the owners already seem to have made lasting impressions on all who’ve stopped by. Some enjoy the atmosphere or the drinks, but the one common thread throughout customers’ comments is this: that Crawford and Galeano are incredibly kind.
“I just wanted to say how wonderful it is there,” said customer, Devon Hauser, “The owners are really genuine and kind people, the products are great and the atmosphere is super warm and welcoming.”
“It’s amazing what they’ve done with the space,” added Abby Chance, Manager of Barner Books, a business located right around the corner from the shop, “the owners are really welcoming and helpful.”
“I popped in there about twice, both times there has been a man and a woman who I believe to be the owners and they were so incredibly kind and friendly,” said SUNY New Paltz senior, Lily Champagne, “The second time I went, I got a sparkling tea with lavender and sage, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever had!”
Some customers, such as Jessie Merten, were even able to receive a custom-made drink. When Merten ordered an iced mocha, the owners responded that it wasn’t on the menu, but that they could try and make one anyway. Merten was impressed by how they made it with chocolate bars from a local chocolate shop rather than a syrup.
It’s no surprise that the owners were able to make this drink on the spot, as they seem to be natural tea “mixologists.”
The couple has been adding creative and innovative new drinks for their menu. One popular item is the Purple Dreams Drink, inspired by a lavender, sage-flavored kombucha Crawford once tried and described as the “best kombucha of [her] life!”
All of the shop’s sparkling teas are made from a housemade tea or herbal concentrate and seltzer water, the Purple Dreams Drink is made from butterfly pea flower — which has a natural bluish tint — lavender and sage. For the summer, the owners want to introduce lemonade to the drink so it’ll turn pink.
Every tea the couple creates is made naturally with no syrups or powdered sugar.
It’s an understatement to say that the pandemic has changed the course of everyone’s lives, but an unexpected business venture and a fresh storefront in New Paltz is one new, wonderful addition to the community this Spring.
“You can tell we didn’t plan to open it during the pandemic…” said Galeano.
“We didn’t plan to open a business at all,” Crawford added.
“But at the same time, from now on it’s always going to be an up,” explained Galeano, “everyone’s touched bottom already, from now on it’s always an uphill. You can see the hope in people.”
The Ridge – Tea & Spice Shop is currently open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., located at 9 North Chestnut Street. For more information and updates, follow the shop’s Instagram page @theridgeteanadspice and Facebook page @The Ridge – Tea & Spice Shop.