La Tienda is a leading online U.S. retailer of gourmet food and cookware from Spain. Founded and managed by the Harris family, after spending many years living in Spain, the business works with artisan and small family businesses across the country. La Tienda celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2016.
La Tienda is based in Williamsburg, Virginia. The company sent over 100,000 packages across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada in the last year, mostly to individual customers, but also to some of the most renowned restaurants and chefs in the country. La Tienda also runs a retail store and tapas bar in Williamsburg to share the flavors of Spain with the local community.
- How did the Harris’ develop an interest in Spain and Spanish products?
Our family lived in Andalucía in the 1970s. Since then, we’ve explored the countryside and cuisine of Spain, which now spans nearly 40 years of experience. In 1996 we decided to share our love for Spanish food, wine and culture with people across the United States.
- Your company has been in business for 20 years. What is the secret of La Tienda’s success?
Our passion for and knowledge of Spain are the driving force behind La Tienda. But the advent of the internet was the key in helping us reach customers in areas of the country that had not encountered Spanish culture. We were also able to take advantage of the growing popularity of Spanish cuisine in the US. Hopefully, we’ve also played a part in spreading the word about Spain’s amazing food and wine.
We also work very hard to improve our logistics and fulfillment ability-constantly. It is the less “sexy” part of ecommerce, but it’s essential that the Jamón Ibérico or package of Pimientos de Padrón arrive on-time and in great condition.
- Tienda.com creates and promotes employment on both sides of the Atlantic, what do you feel is the common ground between both cultures?
The people of Spain and the United States share a warmth and a personal style of interaction that easily overcomes barriers of language and geography. With the increasing influence of Latin Americans in the US there are even more opportunities for common ground.
- Tienda.com started as an online business, and later expanded by adding stores and restaurants. Twenty years ago, this was a very innovative way to start a business! How was that idea conceived?
Our store and tapas bar came about almost by accident! At first we were happy to live exclusively in the ecommerce world. However, our customers began showing up at our warehouse, sometimes driving for hours, because they wanted to experience a connection with Spain and the products we offer.
We decided it was important to give them the experience they deserved, so we opened a retail store in a historic building in Williamsburg, Virginia. After a few years, we added a tapas bar which is very popular, and growing. We never planned to get into the restaurant business, but it is a lot of fun and we love spending time with our customers. We are considering opening another store and tapas bar in 2018.
- What do you love the best about doing business between Spain and the US, and the products you sell?
The food and wine cultures of Spain are phenomenal. It seems like every little village has an amazing style of chorizo, or type of wine, or style of bread, and the people are passionate about protecting and preserving these traditions. The people of Spain are very warm and personal, and it is a privilege to visit our vendors and their families, helping to support so many small companies.
Our customers in the U.S. always impress us with their sense of adventure and willingness to try new food experiences, sharing them with their friends. Finally, part of our job is to travel across Spain, meet wonderful people and sample great food and wine – and that’s not too bad!