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Making Friends in the Summer

After I completed my third year of college, I vowed to myself that this summer would be full of adventures, travel, and new experiences. However, I had no idea that I would stumble upon Uncle Gee.

Flashback to a day earlier: My boyfriend and I tagged along with another couple to catch a Giants nightgame (they won!) in San Francisco and to explore the city. Luckily, SF weather in July is nothing like Fresno so we were able to button up and pretend like it was fall.

The following day, we stopped by famous Chinatown to do some window shopping and snapped some great pictures for Instagram. We caught a glimpse of a store with a bright yellow sign that blared “Free Tea Tasting” at a tea store named Vital Tea Leaf. As college students, they had us at “free” from the get-go.

The set-up was a long, wooden bar that ran the length of the tea store. A few people were there with tiny teacups placed in from of them. A chinese man wearing a Georgia Tech sweatshirt was standing behind the bar counter and yelled at us, “Before you sit down, repeat after me: I will sit down in Uncle Gee’s house and I will call him uncle. You will drink my tea or I will beat the shit out of you.” At first I could not believe this old dude was making us recite this sing-song rhyme and was a bit worried about my safety. But the experience just got better from there on out.

While 70-year-old Uncle Gee poured each one of us different teas to taste, he told us life lessons about how to treat a lady properly and to pursue a higher education. He had us cracking up the entire time with his jokes about his “boner tea” and “horny tea”. Now I know what you’re thinking, this is just straight up disgusting and why didn’t you leave once he mentioned “boner”?

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The long wall of exotic at Vital Tea leaf. I bought the Siberian Rose with Osmanthus tea. Supposedly it’s good for complexion!

I didn’t leave because Uncle Gee was obviously joking and had us hooked. He had great marketing skills where he was able to pull in his customers with his charismatic and genuine personality to the point where the tea sold itself. I had no intention of buying anything when I entered, but felt it was necessary as a sign of his hospitality and respect for his business.

Uncle Gee treated my friends and me like visiting family. He learned our names, asked about our lives and aspirations, and hugged us on the way out. He is a smart guy who knew how to sell himself and his business without us realizing it.

These are the types of people I believe are the real heart and souls of successful and thriving companies. A business or product is nothing without entailing emotions along with it. That’s what keeps people coming back for more.

So the answer is yes, I will be back to see Uncle Gee again someday and possible buy some more tea. It was very delicious after all.

Have you ever come across an Uncle Gee before or been sold by a product based on emotions? Let me know below, I would love to hear what you have experienced!

Until next time,

Mia Villarreal

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