It starts with me buying a house in Oak Park. Not a big house -- in fact, a house about the size we're living in right now. Maybe a tiny bit bigger. Right in this Arts District neighborhood, but ideally on Harrison Street, to get foot traffic. I'm not sure how much that would cost, but let's say $300,000. I don't, by the way, have an extra $300,000 lying around. That's the first reason not to do this. Neither do I have the money for property tax, or the money I'd need to buy supplies and inventory, or the business acumen to deal with what's to come -- but never mind, never mind. This isn't about the practicalities, since this would never happen. We're just dreaming here.
Odds are, it'll be a little beat up, but I'll have fun knocking down some walls on the first floor, opening it up a little. Making it beautiful, the way we are with our house. That first floor will have a tiny kitchenette, a sunny cafe area in the back, overlooking the backyard. The backyard will have a cuttings garden and a vegetable garden and a few more cafe tables. The rest of the first floor will have an ADA-compliant restroom (and hmm...that also means I probably need to figure out some way to install a small ramp in the front of the building), and a little store space. Not a ton -- just enough to sell coffee, chai, samosas, sweets, maybe a bit of soup and sandwich. Not a lot of selection -- one soup a day, perhaps, changing as the mood hits me. Two sandwiches -- one with meat, one without. Oh, and some fruit -- I so often want fruit in a cafe. Kevin would make sure the coffee was up to the highest standards. We might even serve a little wine and beer -- just a small selection of each.
The rest of the first floor would display and sell pretties. What kind of pretties? Whatever I felt like. So there would be a rack with some beautiful yarns and some basic crochet hooks and knitting needles. There would be a little lovely fabric, and maybe some pretty papers and cards. Hand-made items by local artisans. Inexpensive jewelry. Bookmarks and tea cozies. Favorite board games, like Settlers of Cataan. Flowering houseplants, and in season, some cut flowers for sale. There would be imported Sri Lankan decor all over the place, in hand-carved wood and stone. Elephants and peacocks and flowers. A riot of warm color in winter, and a serene cool escape in summer.
And then there are the upstairs rooms. First, they're lined with bookshelves, selling both new and used books. A small selection of new books, mostly used. And the only books you'll find there are books I've read and loved myself. Books I can personally recommend and go on about at length. There'll also be some art on the walls, by local artists, but again, only art I actually like. One room also has a large round table, with chairs to seat a dozen. That's the class room, and in the evenings and on weekends, we'll have knitting and crochet and other fiber arts classes -- and also writing classes, which occasionally, I'll teach. Maybe some board game sessions too. (Hmm...maybe two square tables that we can push together would be better.) A second room will have a few comfy armchairs, but also a lot of small chairs and other low seating. Plus quite a few secondhand toddler / pre-school toys. The books on the lower shelves there will all be kid books, and while we'll ask that you not take food upstairs, drinks are fine. There's one more room upstairs, but it's just a tiny, cozy reading room. One comfy chair, and a desk that faces the window. When someone else is minding the shop, I might come up there, close the door, and do some writing.
Twice a month, in the evenings, we'd have group folksinging / roundsinging, because yes, I am just that geeky. In the summer, out back, we'd clear away the tables and get a local fiddler and dance.
And that's it, my little dream of a cafe / bookstore / flower shop / arts center / writing studio / etc. and so on. I live in the perfect place for such a thing, but have neither the money nor the time to actually do it. Money could perhaps be found -- I gather banks like to give loans to small businesses. But my time is booked up for the foreseeable future. So it's going to stay a daydream for now. Also, because I'm pretty sure it would lose money, rather than make it. Oh, and I'd hire my friends to work here part-time, so that I'd have interesting people to chat with when business was slow and I didn't feel like writing.
(There's a version of this where the house is bigger, and the third floor has three bedrooms that I let out for a bed-and-breakfast. 'Cause if you're going to dream, why not dream big? :-)
It's never going to happen, but just for the record, I would call it Serendipity.
(That's also the name of my spaceship.)