Beloved Redcliffe English tearoom Teddies ’n’ Sweets will close its doors at the end of the month.
Owner Anna Connor says she made the decision on the spur of the moment when she returned from her Christmas break.
“It was on Monday morning – we had been closed for the week between Christmas and New Year and as I opened the doors it was like, ‘no, I can’t do this any more, I’m exhausted’,” Anna explains.
“I’ve been doing it for 17 years and I’ve tried hard to keep it going, but what with COVID and everything else it just got too much.”
Anna says her decision was bittersweet, but she has faced several years of challenges, starting when Teddies ’n’ Sweets had to move from its home of more than 14 years in the Cominos Arcade just before Christmas in 2020.
While she quickly found new premises in Violet St, immediately installing her treasure trove of Freddie Mercury memorabilia, unplanned delays installing a kitchen meant she was unable to serve her famed high teas until May last year.
“Half of it feels sad, but half of it I am very relieved – the thought of just sitting down feels pretty good.”
Anna says she’s seen many changes in the past 17 years.
“The English sweets have started to get harder to get over here.
“At one point there was hardly anyone selling English sweets, but now you can get them in so many places.”
Anna says while she is selling all the shop’s teddies and furniture – even the giant bear that graced the front window – her collection of Freddie Mercury memorabilia, amassed as she worked her way to becoming the Guinness World Record holder for the highest number of times watching a film in a cinema (she saw Bohemian Rhapsody 108 times, and has since watched it hundreds more on DVD at home) is definitely not for sale!
“Not Freddie – he’s not going anywhere,” she laughs.
Among the wares up for grabs in person or through Facebook are Blue Willow china sets, high tea cup, saucer and plate sets, round wooden tables and chairs, display cabinets and a coffee machine she purchased for $1000 that’s selling for $500.
“I think half the nice-ness of having coffee is sitting somewhere with someone else,” Anna says.
“I don’t think I could have sold the business though because the thought of being at home and knowing someone was in my shop was too much.”
Having amassed so many memories – from serving her first high tea in the Cominos Arcade, to tea last year with Freddie Mercury tribute performer Thomas Crane and what unknowingly was her last high tea in November commemorating the anniversary of Mercury’s death, there’s one thing Anna will miss most of all.
“It’s the customers – when they come in and share where in England they’re from or have been – it’s so nice to have a chat with somebody who knows where you’re talking about.”