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'Thank you isn't enough': Maple Ridge tea shop reopens after vandalism thanks to community support

A tea shop in Maple Ridge has opened its doors again after an act of vandalism caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage in September.

On Sept. 21, someone threw a marine pyrotechnic device through the window, which released orange smoke and covered the store in dye.

“That orange dye destroyed everything in here, all of the product, all of the tea had to be thrown away, all of the fixtures had to be restored or thrown away,” said Taryn Stephenson, who co-owns T’s Once Upon A Tea Leaf with her mom.

“It was heartbreaking to watch, it was heartbreaking to unload everything we worked so hard for for the last 16 years and throw it in the garbage and wonder if we could ever rebuild,” she recalled.

She was told it would take eight months to reopen the store. Instead, it took just seven weeks.

Stephenson told CTV News Sunday she credits the quick recovery to “a lot of heart, and a lot of hustle, and a lot of community support.”

She said a community member started a GoFundMe to cover the remainder of the costs after insurance, and that people have been showing up for her in several ways—like hugging her in the middle of the grocery store and sending over wine at restaurants.

“They’ve just shown us that they want us here and that we matter to them,” Stephenson said. ““It’s like this community has wrapped their arms around us like a big hug.”

Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy concurred, telling CTV News that residents of his city always step up to help.

“The community rallied around to pull together to try to get this place ready for Christmas,” he said. “There were doubts, (the owners) didn’t think they’d be able to make it, but here we are, it’s November, and it’s open for Christmas.”

Ruimy added that Maple Ridge is home to “probably the best sense of community I’ve ever experienced.”

Stephenson said that Mounties told her they have a lead as to who’s behind the vandalism. As such, she said she’s hopeful a similar incident won’t happen again, as September’s incident was the second time Once Upon A Tea Leaf has been targeted.

“I don’t need someone to go to jail I just need this to not happen again,” Stephenson said. “Whatever it is that we have done to offend you, or hurt you, or to make you upset, I would love the opportunity to have a real face-to-face conversation rather than hate-fueled acts of vandalism.”

In the meantime, she said it’s been emotional to welcome people back into the store. “It feels like a homecoming, it really does, and we’re just so excited to see everyone again.”

Tearing up, Stephenson added, “To our community, I would like to say thank you. Thank you isn’t enough.” Top Stories

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