April 18, 2011
La Tienda, Leading Retailer of Food from Spain, Celebrates 15 Years of Online Success, Food Revolution
Williamsburg, VA -- April 18, 2011 -- Don Harris and his sons began La Tienda with a passion for Spanish culture and modest expectations. Launched in 1996, only one year after Amazon.com, La Tienda has grown into the premier source of gourmet products from Spain. Beginning as a simple resource for Andalucian ceramics, the company posted an image of a Serrano ham on their website to gauge public interest and soon found a loyal following of customers yearning for the cuisine of Spain.
Graduating from their garage to eventually open offices and warehouses on each side of the Atlantic, this family company now ships 80,000 packages per year to homes and restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
"The food of Spain was little known in the U.S. when we started, and it's now appreciated as one of the world's great cuisines," said Jonathan Harris, who maintains the company's website and extensive catalog. "It’s been an amazing transition."
Jonathan’s brother Tim joined the company a few years after it launched, bringing invaluable experience from two e-commerce companies he started in the late 1990s. The two brothers and their father, along with their wives, created a cohesive family company culture. They take pride that while their international staff has grown to over 30 people, there is still a strong family feeling in how they work together.
La Tienda currently offers over 1,000 artisan products, ranging from the emblematic cured Ibérico ham to ceramics, wines, breads and artisan cheeses. The company maintains personal relationships with hundreds of family firms in Spain, many of them generations old. While it has earned the company a strong following, bringing items produced using traditional methods to modern retail standards was not always easy.
"We have learned to work with small artisan producers to make sure their items arrived in top condition and well packaged," Jonathan Harris said. "We are proud to be supporting these family companies; they are the ones preserving Spain’s traditions."
The Harris family’s appreciation for Spanish culture began when Don first visited the port of Valencia as a U.S. Navy chaplain in 1965, and solidified in the 1970s when a fateful base assignment brought the whole Harris family to the Andalucian region of the country. In addition to the distinctive flavors found in the best Spanish cuisine, the Harris family came to admire the social aspects of dining.
"Spanish culture puts a huge focus on family," Don Harris said. "And as a tight-knit Navy family, we definitely responded to this—and it’s how we run our own company to this day. Right up there with family is the way Spanish people treat their guests, with food and affection. With La Tienda, we want to bring this hospitality to people everywhere."
The company’s first food item sold has also proven to be its most successful: gourmet hams. In addition to Serrano ham, La Tienda specializes in Jamón Ibérico, both of which were simply unavailable to U.S. markets until a few years ago.
"We pre-sold hundreds of Ibérico hams before their eventual introduction, costing up to $1,400 each, proving that there was a market for this emblematic ham—which is in the same league as Beluga caviar or Kobe beef," Tim Harris said.
While it continues to stand by its signature products, La Tienda has ambitious plans for growth. The company will expand its offerings to include even more artisan items, especially in frozen artisan cooked dishes and flash-frozen fresh seafood. They also plan to launch a wholesale website so that chefs across the country can easily access Spain's great foods and share them with their customers.
About La Tienda
Founded in 1996, LaTienda.com is an online retailer offering a selection of over 1000 gourmet food items from Spain. Family–owned and managed, the business is dedicated to working with artisan and small family businesses in Spain. LaTienda.com is headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia, with its Spanish operation based outside of San Sebastian, Spain. Warehouses in Virginia and Alicante, Spain, ship throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Europe. LaTienda.com will ship to over 85,000 customers in 2011, including restaurants and renowned chefs. The company has received numerous awards and coverage in Saveur, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
phone: +1 (757)566-9606
3601 La Grange Parkway
Toano, Virginia 23168