A plot of earth

London, N7
20/02/2014  •  411 words

Listening to: Let Her Go by Passenger

You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

I’d build a coffee shop/bookshop hybrid, with a recreation area outside. There would be a basement with a cosy wood aesthetic and an upstairs with a more minimalist finish. People would be welcome to get a drink and stay as long as they liked. Some would be working, others having a natter; old people would catch up over tea and biscuits while kids could play outside and get a fresh juice when they’ve exhausted themselves.

I would run the place. I’d work mostly from an alcove seat in the corner, helping to serve customers during the morning and lunchtime rushes but keeping everything ticking over the rest of the time. I’d be sourcing fairtrade tea and coffee, booking bands for acoustic nights and inviting authors for book signings. There would be a weekly children’s book club for pre-schoolers and their parents, while a reading club for grown-ups would meet regularly. There would be a weekly games night when the place was transformed into a paradise of board games (they would be available to borrow at any time).

It would be a community hub, where the barriers to entry would be as low as I could make them. It wouldn’t cost much to have a drink or a bite to eat. There would be a regular charity appeal to support projects that were related to activities going on in the shop – whether to do with the coffee trade or issues raised by the books being featured.

The coffee shop would have a website with a blog that would keep people abreast of upcoming events and offer further information about what we’d be up to. Like the taste of your coffee? Here’s the details of where it was sourced and the name of the farmer who produced it. Enjoyed that band the other night? Here’s a profile of them and a set list with links to Spotify and iTunes. Want some recommendations of recent books? Here’s three customer reviews of cookbooks.

The staff would be paid a fair wage and would provide excellent customer service. They would want to hang out at the shop, from time to time, when they were not on duty.

Upstairs, I would have a flat with an office should I feel the need to use it. But why would I, when there is a brilliant workplace downstairs?