Saturday, March 25, 2023

“The Sip” to Open Its Doors at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets

The Sip will be opening at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets later this month. (Courtesy of Nancy Lee)

WILLIAMSBURG — A new coffee shop is expected to open its doors in mid-November at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets.

The coffee shop, named “The Sip,” will feature light lunch and breakfast items on its menu in addition to espresso drinks, specialty coffees, and teas.

The shop’s name derives from the owner, Nancy Lee’s, other James City County-based businesses, The Flipping Flea and The Sipping Flea.

“When I was looking at the flea market I was trying to make it fun and I was saying, ‘We’ll just go to the flipping flea market,’ and then it struck me that it sounded kind of fun. The Flipping Flea Market,” Lee said in an interview with WYDaily. “Then I thought, ‘Okay, now I need a logo with a little flea and it needs to be flipping through the air.’ So I found this girl online that did logos and designs. We chatted back and forth and we designed the Flea. So the flea has costumes if you look at our social media. It’s so much fun. Sometimes we call The Sipping Flea, ‘The Sip.’ So I said to my husband, ‘Why don’t we just call it, the sip?.'”

Some of the drink options are what customers of The Sipping Flea have come to be familiar with. The espresso options like, “The Puppy Kiss,” “The Belly Rub,” and “The Bulldog” are currently featured at the Sipping Flea and will be available at The Sip when the store opens later this month.

(Courtesy of Nancy Lee)

“We have two English bulldogs, so we twisted our menu names around that,” said Lee. “So, Maddie loves belly rubs. So we have a drink called Maddie, and we have another drink called Willow. There’s a drink called Puppy Kiss because puppies love to give kisses, and another called Bull Dog because we have bulldogs. So people have fun with our menu, but the best one is the belly rub because people just giggle when they say it.”

Lee’s group of businesses got its start back in 2018 with the opening of “The Flipping Flea”; a shared retail concept where people can have a booth, set up their own business, and share in the expenses.

“The Flipping Flea was going to be an indoor flea market and we were just going to run the booths Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Well, people started coming in and wanting permanent spaces,” said Lee. “Next thing I know I go from an indoor flea market to an indoor store that I filled quickly. People kept coming so then I added flipping flea two a year later, and then that filled up so I added flipping flea three last November.”

Lee decided to open up The Sipping Flee between the first two Flipping Flea locations because they are all located in the same plaza. Since then, the business has continued to grow in popularity. After being approached by Old Hickory Buildings and Sheds, the company’s products are also now included at the Flipping Flea.

“So now we have sheds out here, three stores, and the coffee shop. So, it just kind of kept growing and now we’re becoming this destination shopping center where our customers are coming back every year,” said Lee. “We just had our first little tour bus come here last week. I was so excited because that was my dream. They came down from New Jersey, they were told by someone else that visited here that their church group needed to visit here and so they did and it was fantastic.”

Next June will mark the fourth anniversary since the opening of the original Flipping Flea. However, with all the growth and expansion came challenges. Lee’s business is involved with over 100 vendors/booths and they had to figure out how to navigate the business during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic business closures last year.

“For the stores, we kind of swam through the murky waters together. All the vendors pulled together and we just stayed tenacious. We knew there was going to be troubled times. We got very creative with doing online sales. We made videos because people couldn’t come into the stores. Well, rent goes on and so does your overhead so we just stayed together as a team, all the merchants,” said Lee. “The coffee shop was a little more difficult because we were supposed to open in April and we know what happened in March. So in April, we ended up not opening our doors and we sat here until August paying the bills, and then finally I said, ‘We’ve got to open.’ So finally in August, we decided to open the doors.”

(Courtesy of Nancy Lee)

Lee and her group of merchants were able to navigate 2020 and now she looks forward to the grand opening of The Sip. It was originally planned to be a coffee cart that they were going to put in the outlet mall about eight months ago. However, they eventually decided to go with a brick-and-mortar store. The Sip will be the only shop at the premium outlets where you can sit inside and have a drink or something to eat.

“At our coffee shop, you can actually sit at a table indoors, out of the elements. We gave homeschoolers, high schoolers, and other students our coffee shop for classroom space. We had a table of eight students from Warhill. They were here all day, and they were here doing school work,” said Lee. “We were very accommodating and they were so gracious when they left because we offer free WI-FI. This has been going on since we pretty much opened the Sipping Flea. People could come here and not worry that they had to leave, or if they were disrupting my normal customer base. So it was just cool to see the different groups of homeschoolers that would come here, or parents that would bring their kids in, or people that were working from home that needed to get out and work somewhere else. They would come here and put on their headsets, and they would work here instead of at home just to change their environment. Some of them felt so good that they were able to get out of their house. They could get out and do all their work here.”

Lee says that The Sip plans to open an hour prior to the normal mall hours to give the employees a chance to grab a coffee or something else before they go to work.

For more information and updates people can head over to The Sipping Flea Facebook page.

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