The Green Corner Store

Shelley and Julie by the coffee and tea wall at The Green Corner Store. Organic tea.

Do you want the tea? Organic tea, that is! Then it’s time to take a trip to Arkansas and visit The Green Corner Store’s Tea Bar—or you can visit their website, of course. 

Treated like a sustainable crop, organic tea is made without chemicals like herbicides or chemical fertilizer and grown with regenerative practices like crop rotation. 

Loose leaf, matcha, oolong, iced—tea has been a beloved and global drink for millennia, with the first physical evidence found in the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han in Xi'an of China’s Han Dynasty in the second century BC. 

But you’ve never seen tea like this. 

Three Green Americans Walk Into a Tea Bar... 

The Green Corner Store first opened in 2009, selling a variety of green products for personal care, home and kitchen, kids, and more to local Arkansans. Seven years later, in the fall of 2016, the Tea Bar opened. 

“It was the perfect complement to our eco-friendly corner store,” said founder and owner Shelley Green. “It seamlessly added a hospitality aspect to our customer experience.” 

Committed to staying local, The Green Corner Store’s anchor brand of tea is Arkansas-based Savoy Tea Co. 

Green says of Savoy: “They ethically source teas that are grown and produced by families and small producers. They have many organic teas and exclusive varieties blended in their very own Tea Lab in northwest Arkansas.” 

Shelley Green, an older white woman with a greying bob and brown, rectangle glasses, stands center from the chest up in her organic tea store.
Shelley Green. Credit: Shelley Green

Though not every tea sold is organic, The Green Corner Store boasts over 35 different teas, some sourced from local tea suppliers who grow and forage their own leaves and herbs, and Green ensures customers never have to worry about stale tea. 

Organic Tea, Tea Lattes, and Kombucha on Tap 

“We’ve often heard from our customers that it’s difficult to find a place that caters to those who are enthusiastic about drinking tea,” Green says, noting it’s mostly coffee shops with tea. 

For those who may want to decrease their caffeine intake or simply explore the world of tea, the Tea Bar, or The Green Corner Store’s online store, is a perfect starting point. 

“We brew each cup to order, with hot and iced tea, matcha, tea lattes, and kombucha on tap,” Green describes. “Then there is the sheer enjoyment of having a cup of tea made for them and taking that first sip. We can make recommendations based on their preferences and then flavor accordingly. It’s an experience for the senses. Customers can see, smell, and taste our teas.” 

A rich black tea from the Yunnan province in China with hints of Cacao, the mug sits on a piece of canvas. Organic tea.
There's so many types of tea that even if you think you're not a tea drinker, you could be surprised. Credit:
Drew Jemmett

There really is tea for everyone—classics like Earl Grey, a tea latte if you’re a fan of more milk, or herbal for those who don’t want any caffeine, and teas infused with things like ginger or turmeric if you’re not feeling your best. 

“Discovering a new favorite is always fun, and our monthly Special-Tea Drink is a big draw,” says Green. 

Shopping Local Is Building Community 

On The Green Corner Store website, there’s a tab for “Arkansas Made,” and that is an important part of the business for Green. 

“From the start, we wanted to showcase the creativity of our region and bring in local art and products,” she explains. “Just as customers are wanting more and more to shop locally, our makers want to buy locally, too. We love introducing our farmers to makers that can use what they grow and building community this way.” 

Running her business this way, Green notes they’re less focused on a competitive environment and instead take pride in seeing others succeed. When she first opened her store in Little Rock, she says there weren’t many establishments in the neighborhood but now, it’s an area popular for tourists and residents alike. 

“We have worked diligently to build a successful company that gives back to the community.” 

The Green Corner Store sources its products from local festivals, trade shows, and customers’ recommendations. “We source goods from companies that share our values,” Green adds. “We look for clean, non-toxic ingredients, ethical practices, recyclable and upcycled materials, and minimal and eco-packaging.” 

The establishment also hosts a “Meet the Maker” series where local vendors come and talk to customers. 

Consider the Environment in Every Aspect 

Just as the makers and businesses they source from, The Green Corner Store commits to their own eco-friendly and sustainable business practices. It’s in “every aspect” of the store, according to Green, from package-free products to help close the loop and encourage their customers to move towards zero-waste and plastic-free lifestyles, and non-toxic cleaning products for general housekeeping. 

A hand-written sign on a counter with a wall of tea behind it. The sign reads: "December Tea Special! Merry and MinTea: Chocolate vanilla mate winter mint syrup choice of milk hot or cold." Organic tea.
One of The Green Corner Store's "special-tea" drinks from December. Credit: Shelley Green

“At the Tea Bar,” Green notes, “we encourage our customers to bring their own reusable containers and after brewing, we keep the tea leaves to donate them to the nearby community garden’s compost pile.” 

By prioritizing local products, the business can lessen its carbon footprint from long-distance shipping. The benefits of locality don’t stop there, as Green says other local businesses donate their unwanted bags, labels, and other materials instead of tossing them. 

Located in a 120-year-old historic building, they rely on ceiling fans, large windows with natural lighting and shades, and open doors to lessen the use of energy-sucking appliances. 

Green says she grew up with an “intense love” of nature and as she explored books about the environment and alternative health practices, she had her “AHA” moment. 

“I connected the state of the environment with my personal health, and I knew I had found my passion and wanted to share it with others,” she says. Her education continued as she worked for community development nonprofits, an environmental center on a college campus, and beyond. “With my background in education and retail, I decided to open my store as a place where others could learn what it means to have an eco-lifestyle.” 

Most of all, Green says she is happy to run a business that people trust, a workplace that values its employees, and a friendly “hello” to all who work through the doors. 

As one customer-turned-staff member said: “Being at The Green Corner Store is being part of the community. It brings me joy to be working at the heart of it all.” 

The Green Corner Store is one of thousands of businesses who have been certified as a Green Business Network member, a designation given to businesses which meet or exceed Green America’s standards for social and environmental responsibility.    

Photo credit
Shelley Green