Teezers closes its doors in December

by Heather Wallace

After 30 years serving the Orcas Island community, Teezers will close its doors permanently on Dec. 29.

The genesis of Teezers dates back to 1987 after Mark and Carolyn Bledsoe moved to Orcas from Southern California and purchased what was then the Cookie Tender. It closed at the end of October, remodeled, and then reopened in December of the same year under their new name, Teezers – derived from Carolyn’s maiden name, “Ortiz.”

It was at this time that the Bledsoes made a call to Starbucks’ corporate headquarters to see if it’d be willing to sell wholesale coffee to their small establishment. It agreed, making Teezers one of the first stores with this type of relationship with the company. Starbucks went public in 1992 and now has over 23,000 locations around the world.

In the beginning, Teezers’ menu was simple – drip coffee and their famous cookies (only .50 cents at the time). And yes, young people, there was a time when lattes and caramel macchiatos weren’t a thing. Teezers soon progressed to other delicious baked goods created from scratch in the early hours of the morning. One of my personal favorite memories of Teezers includes a throwback to the 90s when it served lunches. Anyone remember that famous potato cheese soup, tortilla soup and chicken divan?

But Teezers will not only be remembered for their mouthwatering treats and comforting drinks. It will be remembered as a place where relationships were built. Where people went to chat with friends and neighbors and to visit with their fellow community members. Some of Mark and Carolyn’s nephews recall Teezers as a place of learning while working alongside their aunt and uncle over the years.

“Working at Teezers wasn’t just a summer job,” recalled Jordan Gage. “We learned at a young age that our island was a special place – not because of its location or beauty, but because of the people we encountered each and every day from our community.”

“I’ll never forget their generosity,” said Shea Sasan. “People who had no money would come into the store to warm up and Mark would give them a coffee and something to eat. If one of the local kids was short on cash Carolyn would not hesitate to give them something for free.”

The decision to close was not an easy one for the Bledsoes and was ultimately made so that Mark and Carolyn could focus more on their health. I personally know they will miss seeing their customers each day. The “Teezers crew” who fills half of the store on any given weekday morning; drinks like “the Shelby,” that are famous only at Teezers; the high school students Mark loves to deal his daily sarcasm to; the young children who run around the counter to give “Cece” a hug before receiving their hot chocolate; and even tourists who fondly sit and witness the intricate connections of our small island.

Both Mark and Carolyn agree, “Our customers have become more like family to us. We have laughed with them, cried with them, celebrated birthdays, weddings, graduations and even had to say goodbye to many dear friends.”

Our community will obviously go on, but in my opinion, will never be the same.

The Bledsoes would like to thank the community for 30 amazing years and invites you to join them for a complimentary cookie and coffee before they close their doors. Come in on Dec, 29, to say goodbye to this iconic business who has consistently served us all for three decades.

“It has been one unforgettable, crazy, adventure – and all because we love coffee, cookies, and creating a space that feels like our home.”