Our Story

The Harron Family (Summer 2023): Seated, left to right: Paulina, Cyndi, Monica.  Standing, left to right: Paolo, James, Joan, Jim Jr.

Here at Simpson & Vail, the Harron family's mission is to uphold the highest standards in quality, service and value, in order to best serve you, our faithful customers.

We are dedicated to bringing you the finest quality, most health conscious products available at the fairest prices.  

Our History: 

Photo of the founder Mr. Augustus Walbridge, Photograph courtesy of Margaret Trapp Cruse

Simpson & Vail, Inc. is an old time tea company and was originally founded as a green coffee merchant in 1904 by Augustus M. Walbridge on Water Street in New York City as Augustus M. Walbridge, Inc.

Mr. Walbridge, Photograph courtesy of Margaret Trapp Cruse


Lester B. Vail, Photograph courtesy of Margaret Trapp Cruse


In 1929, Mr. Walbridge sold the business to Mr. Simpson, the accountant, and Mr. Lester Vail, the tea taster. Hence, a great business was born.

Lester B. Vail, Photograph courtesy of Margaret Trapp Cruse

 For years Simpson & Vail, Inc. was located In New York City on Water St., then Front St., then Park Place. Besides the location changes, the business grew and numerous phases occurred. From 1929 to 1962, bulk tea was the only product Simpson & Vail, Inc. carried. In 1962 roasted coffee and teabags were added. Late in 1978, Jim and Joan Harron purchased Simpson & Vail Inc., and in 1979, they added specialty food products and tea accessories as well as expanding the tea and coffee lines.

Jim Sr. seated at Lester Vail’s desk

Here is Jim Sr. sitting by a piece of Simpson & Vail history, the roll top desk that was Lester Vail's personal desk in 1929 (86 years old). The desk was given to us by Barbara Cruse and Mary Gannon, daughters of Margaret Trapp Cruse who was the first Simpson & Vail employee in 1929 and retired from S&V in the mid 1970's. (See Margaret’s bio below.) After Margaret retired she was given some S&V memorabilia, which she had cared for until she passed away on July 16, 2012.

We were also fortunate to receive two pictures, one featuring Wall Street circa 1847 and the other South Street at the corner of Maiden Lane circa 1828 and a wall hanging clock with pendulum motion. This clock and the photos were in the office of Simpson & Vail as well as a balance scale and a stamp spindle (pictured on top of the desk in the photo).


James F. Harron, Sr.
It is with profound sadness that we report the passing of Jim Harron Sr., an icon, a master storyteller, a man with a thirst for knowledge and lover of life. Jim passed away on January 18 peacefully at home surrounded by family. He and his wife, Joan, bought Simpson & Vail in the 70’s and worked together here for 44 years. They took an almost failing business and turned it into the brand you see today. While they turned the reins of the company over to their eldest son, Jim, and daughter, Cyndi, years ago, they still came to work every day. Jim was in the store entertaining customers as recently as this Christmas season, delighting them with stories about teas or some of the marvelous adventures he’s had and discoveries he’s made over the years. He will be sorely missed by his family, all the employees here, his friends and the community. Jim lived life to the fullest and cherished every day. We hope to honor him by doing the same.

In Memoriam

(Margaret Trapp (Cruse) & Lester Vail – Wall Street, NYC 1932)

A celebration of the life of a wonderful lady…
Margaret Barbara Trapp Cruse

Wife, Mother, Cook, Humanitarian …. And an integral part of the Simpson & Vail story!

(left - Margaret Trapp (Cruse) & Lester Vail – Wall Street, NYC 1932)

Born on May 21, 1912, Margaret celebrated her 100th birthday this year before passing away at her home on July 16th after a short illness. Margaret was an integral part of Simpson & Vail starting in the late 1920’s. Her daughters, Barbara and Mary, have kindly shared with us a few details about Margaret that we didn’t previously know.

Margaret was hired by Mr Vail in 1928, when she was just 16 years old, to be his personal assistant. She also did typing for Augustus Walbridge, the original owner of S&V, at his office that was in the same building as S&V at 89 Front Street in New York City. In 1942 Margaret left S&V when she became pregnant with her eldest daughter, Barbara. From 1942 until 1959, as busy as she was being a wife and a mother (to her daughters Barbara and Mary), Margaret still managed to find time to work at S&V during the busy Christmas season or when her replacement took her summer vacation. In 1959, when her replacement moved out of the area, Margaret, facing college tuition expenses for her daughters, returned full-time to work at S&V. After Mr. Vail passed away, Margaret ran S&V herself until the business was sold in the mid 1970’s.

Margaret’s Memorial

Margaret had many accomplishments in her life – certainly in her era. And while her successes in the business world of S&V were important to those of us that followed her, Margaret's joy was her husband of 48 years, Clinton, and their daughters. In the years to follow Margaret would also enjoy the company of her ever expanding family as well as squeeze in the time for a lot of volunteer work and bringing smiles to people’s faces through her talent as a cook and baker.

We were fortunate enough to have been visited by Margaret and varying family members several times over the years. Her knowledge of the early days at S&V helped to fill in some of our gaps about the origin of the company and the people who started it all!

When she passed away Jim, Sr. attended her wake in New Jersey. There in the room her daughter Mary had set up a table commemorating Margaret’s dedication to her time at Simpson & Vail - her favorite teapot, 2 cups and saucers, some scones and a box of S&V Ceylon tea.

We wanted to take the time today to tell you about Margaret, to share with you the story of how one woman made a difference to so many people. All of us here are thankful that we had the opportunity to get to know her and her family.