INDEPENDENCE — Almost Famous Tea & Spice Company opened its doors on March 14 in downtown Independence and despite its brief existence so far, iowner Jeff Thomas said it’s doing well.

Thomas, a self-described “Army brat,” says he grew up “all over” but has roots in Vincennes, Indiana, where he ran a coffee shop about 20 years ago. Now an Independence citizen, he’s pleased to offer coffees, teas, herbs and spices to shoppers, along with a few extras like mugs, cups with their own infusers, tea strainers, French presses and cookbooks.

“I was looking for tea for my own health,” Thomas explained as to why he opened his shop. “And I really couldn’t find anything — all you can do is buy online or drive for an hour to get something.”

He thought other people here might feel the same way. “They’re tired of buying online and driving. So I thought we’d open up something here.”

The business’s name was something of a joke, it turns out. The name “was going something along the lines of Virginia Spice Company and things like that,” he said. Somebody mentioned Spice & Tea Exchange, a Florida-based chain with an outlet in Blowing Rock, N.C. “And I said, ‘Well, they’re really famous. We’re not quite famous.’ And my son said, ‘Well, you could tell people you’re almost famous.’ ”

(The son in question — Thomas has more than one — grins from the corner. He comes up from the high school after classes to help his dad clean and stock the store, and do his homework.)

Almost Famous offers bags of ground Red Rooster coffees from Floyd, as well as other boutique brands of goods like Starwest Botanicals, a California-based organic herb and spice purveyor, whose products make up a sizable portion of Almost Famous’s goods.

As far as spices go, “We sell a larger package than what you normally find in grocery stores [in] those little bottles,” he said; good news if you have a favorite spice or type of seasoning blend that you tend to go through quickly. “That’s just a convenience item in my mind, but they’re all organic, as well,” said Thomas.

Tea lovers enjoy browsing their options. “They’ll ask me if I have something. And if I don’t, I can get it, which is great,” he said, adding, “I haven’t had a lot of people come in and say, ‘You don’t have what I want.’ ”

Thomas pointed. “We’ve got a neat little tea over here. It’s made by Table Rock Tea Company in South Carolina. And it’s an actual American tea farm.”

As for the public’s response, he said, “People have been really supportive and really open. Everybody has been really positive. They’ve been like ‘Oh, this is great!’ That’s cool. And just about everybody has found what they were looking for.”

He concluded, smiling, “I’d like to see more people come on down.”

Almost Famous Tea & Spice Company is located at 120 E. Main Street in downtown Independence. Hours of operation are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, call 276-768-1722 or find them on Facebook by searching for “Almost Famous Tea and Spice.”