Entrepreneur Doug Putman Discusses His Newest Venture, T.Kettle, Opening in Former David’s Tea Storefronts: Interview

Date:

Share post:

Canadian entrepreneur Doug Putman has a history of resurrecting struggling retail concepts with new ideas and new initiatives, including T.Kettle.

He is best known for converting HMV music stores to Sunrise Records a few years ago.

CANADIAN ENTREPRENEUR DOUG PUTMAN CONVERTS DAVIDSTEA LOCATIONS INTO T.KETTLE

Now, he has another project in the retail space as Doug Putman has taken 45 shuttered DAVIDsTea locations and transformed them into a new brand T.Kettle with the goal to expand the concept further in Canada.

Doug Putman headshot
DOUG PUTMAN HEADSHOT

“I think in any tough times – and this is certainly one of them – there’s opportunities that present themselves. Back four or five years ago, Sunrise Records presented an opportunity for us when HMV left the market and I think this is an exact example of that where it’s in an industry I really like, which is tea. I think people who are into tea are very passionate about it and it’s part of their ritual and routine,” said Putman.

“So obviously when DAVIDs decided to leave the market to a large extent – they have a few stores left – it just signalled to us that this could be one of those opportunities worth looking into. The further we looked into it the more we liked the business model, the more we liked the business itself. Very quickly it was just a check mark for us to say okay we’ve got to do this.”

T.Kettle stores will feature certified vegan, kosher, organic blends, with all products ethically sourced and sustainable.

“The store is going to look a little different. Obviously a different name but our products are different. There’s many different kinds of Earl Grey tea as an example and there’s different qualities. So we feel that we offer the best quality of loose leaf tea in the market. We’re really appealing to people who really want to taste and have the best quality tea out there.”

CANADIAN TEA MARKET IS GROWING

Putman said the tea market in Canada has been growing for years and continues to grow.

“Of course, it’s nowhere near the size of coffee but that’s okay. Businesses can be different sizes and they can grow. And so we just really like tea. We like the health benefits of tea. We like the enjoyment of drinking tea. I mean it is similar to listening to vinyl in our other business. There’s an experience there with it so we really enjoy that. We think there’s something great about it. Although it’s ‘niche’ it’s still a very big business. We’re at 45 stores right now but every day we’re signing more stores. I still believe in Canada we can get up to 100 stores in the next six months.”

T.Kettle stores will be in malls in provinces across Canada, with six US stores in California, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

“We always believed there would be a return to the purity and authenticity of music on vinyl and the record shop experience, and we were right, said Putman. “We believe that loose-leaf tea is poised for a similar comeback, and we’re merging our expertise in retail operations with our passion for tea to bring T. Kettle to cities across Canada and the US.”

When asked what lifts his optimism in these challenging times and an economic downturn caused by COVID, Putman replied:

“We understand retail well. We now own retail in three different countries and I think if you can get partnership from your suppliers, your landlords, you can be fiscally responsible, you can listen to your customers and really provide something that they actually want and enjoy, I think you’re going to be successful.

“Is COVID the best time for us to be doing this? No, but I think without it we wouldn’t have been presented with this opportunity and for us we think about everything longer term. At some point, this will be behind us. We will get back to some form of normal and so again a long-term thing where the opportunity just happened to present itself today.

“I always believe you’re presented with lots of opportunities in life. Everyone is. Some you take. Some you don’t. This is one we just felt was too good to pass up.”

Will T.Kettle be Putman’s last retail resurrection?

“I hope not. From my end, we’re looking to acquire more businesses. It could be retail, it could not be retail. Of course, we’d always like to get someone before there’s a bankruptcy. We always like talking to retailers who are struggling right now and try and find a solution for them to help them through it, however if that’s not the case we’re always good to resurrect as well. I hope it’s not our last. I hope we do a few more.

“Personally I just love it. I love retail. I think it’s a great industry. I hope to stick with it.”

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From Retail Insider

Waterworks Food Hall to Open in Downtown Toronto Next Month, Showcasing 20 Gourmet Vendors in Historic Location [Interview/Photos]

The highly anticipated food hall on Richmond Street will span 55,000 square feet and will add more food and beverage competition in the downtown core with a range of hand-picked specialty vendors.

Bluenotes Launches ‘Unplug’ Activewear Shop-in-Shops in Stores Across Canada [Interview/Photos]

It's the first activewear line for the Canadian retailer, with dedicated shop-in-stores being part of a segment that is growing rapidly.

A Grocer Code of Conduct Could have Prevented Canada’s Bread Cartel [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that the grocer code aims to curb illegal activities that would make it tougher to orchestrate such schemes.

From Barbie to Thomas the Tank Engine: How Toy and Entertainment Brands are Adapting to Generation Alpha [Op-Ed]

A new more 'woke' generation means that toys and entertainment deemed acceptable in the past are no longer desirable to a new set of consumers.

Anatomy of a Leader: Dave Minnett, CEO of Edo Japan

Minnett discusses how his education and early years at Molson led him into different business avenues before landing at Edo in 2016, where he's implementing change.

Downtown Banff Welcomes New Mountain Warehouse Store Amidst National Expansion [Photos]

The UK-based outdoor retailer operates 43 stores in Canada, making it the second-largest market outside of the UK. The Banff Mountain Warehouse is next to a former Hudson's Bay that will see Arc'teryx open there next year.

Mandated $20/hour Living Wage Could Drive 600,000 Canadian Small Businesses to Closure, Warns CFIB Report [Interview]

CFIB policy analyst says that governments are setting these wages with no anchor in economic reality, while impacting thousands of small businesses already struggling.

Stokes Inc. Invests in Store Renovations and New Gift Line to Reinforce Market Presence [Interview]

The Canadian retailer of kitchenware, tableware, and homeware is upgrading its operations after a pandemic restructuring, including enhancing the online and in-store experience while launching new products.

How Big Food Companies Can Do More to Create Healthier Food Environments [Op-Ed]

A team of researchers wanted to understand the commitments companies have made to create healthier food environments in Canada, and to see if things had improved since an earlier 2018 study.

Canadian Custom Clothing Brand ‘Surmesur’ Expanding with New Locations, and Partnership with NHL Coaches’ Association [Interview]

The Quebec-based custom suit and clothing brand has grown significantly since the pandemic, with new and relocated showrooms and successful partnerships including making suits for NHL coaches.

Toronto’s Waterfront BIA Releases Comprehensive Report to Boost District’s Vibrancy and Retail Experience [Feature]

The report contains an overview of the planning context and best practices relevant to the area, a built-form review of existing commercial spaces, research summarizing the current retail conditions, and the results of surveys conducted with waterfront business owners, residents, and visitors.

Vestis Fashion Group Relocates ‘Weekend by Max Mara’ Storefront at Metropolis at Metrotown [Photos] 

The beautiful new store features a 40-foot facade, and is part of a Vancouver-based luxury brand conglomerate that created the highest saturation of Max Mara stores in North America

Canadian Tire Launches AI Shopping Assistant and Humanoid Robots to Enhance Customer Service and Operations [Interview]

The human-like robot was designed to alleviate tedious and monotonous tasks, as Canadian Tire tests technologies that will take the retailer into the future.

Ted Baker, Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand Stores in Canada to Close Following Financial Struggles

Following a filing for creditor protection last month, the Canadian division is shutting down the operations of three iconic brands in Canada with 25 stores.

Cleo Unveils New Concept Store at CF Polo Park, Leads Multi-Location Expansion Across Canada [Interview/Photos]

The women's fashion retailer is expanding the new concept with new locations, while also opening hybrid stores with its Ricki's and Bootlegger banners says the company's President.

Controversial ‘Steal from Loblaws Day’ on May 12 Won’t Foster Meaningful Change [Op-Ed]

Omar Fares discusses discontent from consumers over grocery prices, and how theft undermines social cohesion and disproportionately impacts the communities these actions aim to support.

Anatomy of a Leader: Gillian Stein, CEO of Henry’s

The great granddaughter of the founder of Henry's Cameras discusses growing up in the business, her love for learning, and her leadership style that has seen success as she opens up about her personal struggles.

Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue Seeing Vacancies as Optimism Grows for Future Vibrancy Post-Pandemic [Interviews]

Edmonton's busiest pedestrian street is seeing retail vacancies, though brokers and the BIA say that things are on the up with new retailers and foodservice businesses, as well as new developments.

Consumers in Canada Want Lower Food Prices, which could Compromise Food Security [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that Canada is experiencing a significant drop in food inflation, with grocery prices projected to fall below 1% by the summer. This could lead to increased pressure on suppliers and closures of manufacturing plants, threatening the stability of the domestic food supply chain, he says.

TCX Travelers Currency Exchange to Expand Footprint with New Locations in BC, Alberta, Ontario [Interview]

Broker Tony Flanz says that the concept is in growth mode following its 2022 takeover of International Currency Exchange locations in enclosed malls across Canada.

RECENT RETAIL INSIDER VIDEOS

Advertisment

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Subscribe

* indicates required

RECENT articles

Waterworks Food Hall to Open in Downtown Toronto Next Month, Showcasing 20 Gourmet Vendors in Historic Location [Interview/Photos]

The highly anticipated food hall on Richmond Street will span 55,000 square feet and will add more food and beverage competition in the downtown core with a range of hand-picked specialty vendors.

Bluenotes Launches ‘Unplug’ Activewear Shop-in-Shops in Stores Across Canada [Interview/Photos]

It's the first activewear line for the Canadian retailer, with dedicated shop-in-stores being part of a segment that is growing rapidly.

A Grocer Code of Conduct Could have Prevented Canada’s Bread Cartel [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that the grocer code aims to curb illegal activities that would make it tougher to orchestrate such schemes.

From Barbie to Thomas the Tank Engine: How Toy and Entertainment Brands are Adapting to Generation Alpha [Op-Ed]

A new more 'woke' generation means that toys and entertainment deemed acceptable in the past are no longer desirable to a new set of consumers.

Anatomy of a Leader: Dave Minnett, CEO of Edo Japan

Minnett discusses how his education and early years at Molson led him into different business avenues before landing at Edo in 2016, where he's implementing change.

Downtown Banff Welcomes New Mountain Warehouse Store Amidst National Expansion [Photos]

The UK-based outdoor retailer operates 43 stores in Canada, making it the second-largest market outside of the UK. The Banff Mountain Warehouse is next to a former Hudson's Bay that will see Arc'teryx open there next year.

Mandated $20/hour Living Wage Could Drive 600,000 Canadian Small Businesses to Closure, Warns CFIB Report [Interview]

CFIB policy analyst says that governments are setting these wages with no anchor in economic reality, while impacting thousands of small businesses already struggling.

Stokes Inc. Invests in Store Renovations and New Gift Line to Reinforce Market Presence [Interview]

The Canadian retailer of kitchenware, tableware, and homeware is upgrading its operations after a pandemic restructuring, including enhancing the online and in-store experience while launching new products.

How Big Food Companies Can Do More to Create Healthier Food Environments [Op-Ed]

A team of researchers wanted to understand the commitments companies have made to create healthier food environments in Canada, and to see if things had improved since an earlier 2018 study.

Canadian Custom Clothing Brand ‘Surmesur’ Expanding with New Locations, and Partnership with NHL Coaches’ Association [Interview]

The Quebec-based custom suit and clothing brand has grown significantly since the pandemic, with new and relocated showrooms and successful partnerships including making suits for NHL coaches.

Toronto’s Waterfront BIA Releases Comprehensive Report to Boost District’s Vibrancy and Retail Experience [Feature]

The report contains an overview of the planning context and best practices relevant to the area, a built-form review of existing commercial spaces, research summarizing the current retail conditions, and the results of surveys conducted with waterfront business owners, residents, and visitors.

Vestis Fashion Group Relocates ‘Weekend by Max Mara’ Storefront at Metropolis at Metrotown [Photos] 

The beautiful new store features a 40-foot facade, and is part of a Vancouver-based luxury brand conglomerate that created the highest saturation of Max Mara stores in North America

Canadian Tire Launches AI Shopping Assistant and Humanoid Robots to Enhance Customer Service and Operations [Interview]

The human-like robot was designed to alleviate tedious and monotonous tasks, as Canadian Tire tests technologies that will take the retailer into the future.

Ted Baker, Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand Stores in Canada to Close Following Financial Struggles

Following a filing for creditor protection last month, the Canadian division is shutting down the operations of three iconic brands in Canada with 25 stores.

Cleo Unveils New Concept Store at CF Polo Park, Leads Multi-Location Expansion Across Canada [Interview/Photos]

The women's fashion retailer is expanding the new concept with new locations, while also opening hybrid stores with its Ricki's and Bootlegger banners says the company's President.

Controversial ‘Steal from Loblaws Day’ on May 12 Won’t Foster Meaningful Change [Op-Ed]

Omar Fares discusses discontent from consumers over grocery prices, and how theft undermines social cohesion and disproportionately impacts the communities these actions aim to support.

Anatomy of a Leader: Gillian Stein, CEO of Henry’s

The great granddaughter of the founder of Henry's Cameras discusses growing up in the business, her love for learning, and her leadership style that has seen success as she opens up about her personal struggles.

Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue Seeing Vacancies as Optimism Grows for Future Vibrancy Post-Pandemic [Interviews]

Edmonton's busiest pedestrian street is seeing retail vacancies, though brokers and the BIA say that things are on the up with new retailers and foodservice businesses, as well as new developments.

Consumers in Canada Want Lower Food Prices, which could Compromise Food Security [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that Canada is experiencing a significant drop in food inflation, with grocery prices projected to fall below 1% by the summer. This could lead to increased pressure on suppliers and closures of manufacturing plants, threatening the stability of the domestic food supply chain, he says.

TCX Travelers Currency Exchange to Expand Footprint with New Locations in BC, Alberta, Ontario [Interview]

Broker Tony Flanz says that the concept is in growth mode following its 2022 takeover of International Currency Exchange locations in enclosed malls across Canada.