Phoenix Pearl Tea has a long and storied history. It began as a bookstore in 1986 under the name Broadway Bookstore. The original store was about a block away from its current location, and about a quarter the size. The original owners had a metaphysical focus, the next owner ran it as a used bookstore, and the third owner had a mix of new and used books with a focus on Montana history.
Gary and Kathy Robson purchased the store on October 15, 2001, renamed it Red Lodge Books & Tea, and moved it to larger quarters in May 2002. They expanded again in February 2010, opening a tea bar and bringing in journals, maps, toys & games, and quality cigars.
In 2016, Red Lodge Books & Tea sold to a new bookstore opening in Billings, taking with it all the inventory, fixtures, and management. After less than a year, Gary and the tea bar manager, Gwen Gunn, decided they couldn't stay away from Red Lodge any longer and came back, opening a new shop under their own banner once more. Thus was born the Phoenix Pearl Tea Tavern.
Phoenix Pearl Tea came about because of our love of tea, our love of Red Lodge, and our yearning to run a store independently again. The name is not just an allusion to "rising from the ashes" of Red Lodge Books & Tea, but also from a style of tea that all of us adore. We wanted to open a store that wasn't just a return-to-form of the bookstore, so we focused on tea. We couldn't leave the books behind, so we invested in a few shelves and a small selection of local history, local guidebooks, tea and cookbooks, as well as some local authors (including both Gary and Gwen).
In addition to the roughly 100 different teas and herbs, as well as the books, that we stock, we also have a wide variety of tabletop games! Some may not be aware, but Tabletop Gaming is having a renaissance, and we're along for the ride. We host game nights every Thursday to allow people to try these games before they buy them, but we also keep our demos available for use any time.