A long time ago before the world changed, about the second week of March 2020, my wife and I were going to move to the coast – probably in Oregon. We were going to open a shop. The details about how, where, and with what money we were going to do this were a little sketchy. I just assumed we would figure it out when we got there. All we needed to do was get our cat micro-chipped and wait for the arrival of Jenya’s passport and Green Card visa.
Our store is going to feature four sections, not including a possible mini-golf out back: penguins, indie authors and artists, collectors’ corner, and creative activities. Each section would be set up to inspire experiences and encourage joy, friendship, and togetherness. In a post for Penguinators only, I drew up a plan for the ultimate experience generator – C.A.P.E. I’ve added to that plan since the post.
Experiences and Happiness
Experiences make people happy not things. If we can capture that and provide a memento that sums up the experience, we will have improved people’s lives for as long as they have the memory. That is the operating themes of our store, and it all starts with penguins.
We’ve seen how people get joy from the penguins, especially when they include them in their travels and other experiences. #CookieSaturday. The penguin section would feature my wife’s handmade penguins. We will search for other penguin products to make it a true Penguin Emporium. There would be a rookery, webcam feeds from penguins around the world, and a way to donate to those who work with penguins. The Penguin Emporium would be geared toward bringing the experience of penguins, live and in plushie form, to the guests who came to our shop.
Indie Authors and Artists
Our Indie Authors and Artists section would have three parts to it. The first part would be a selection of independent and/or local authors. People would be able to come in and browse books by authors they would be hard-pressed to find outside of a convention. I had already started making connections and seeing how authors felt about such a store. There was some great feedback and a couple of success stories.
The second part would be our lounge area. Local refreshments, coffee, water, and used books that could be bought or read in store. We’d have a couple of nice chairs, maybe a couch, and a faux fireplace. The used book section would include non-indie authors and heavily themed to what I like to read. In fact, many of them would come from my own collection of books. “Alice in Wonderland,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Anne of Green Gables,” and “Winnie the Pooh” (affiliate links) would be among the offerings.
The third part of this section would be a little more difficult to pull off because of the space required. The Indie Artist section would allow us to include boxes mad by my stepdad, chainmail jewelry made by Books and Chains, and metal art made by Colorworld Books. We could also approach local artists and offer a more permanent place to offer their paintings, arts, and crafts than the weekend fair.
This third section I would also build starting with my collections and collections of things I was able to pick up. My mom has some great Pillsbury Doughboy stuff that she needs to sell because she’s moving to a smaller place. I have comic books, basketball cards, McDonald’s toys, and a large selection of Disney memorabilia. There’s really no limit what could go in here. It would provide fun for me and allow me to connect with others who enjoy collecting.
In the Beginning
The first two sections, Penguin Emporium and Indie Authors and Artists would be the easiest to pull off, and what we would start with depending on the size of the property. They would require the least amount of real estate. There would be insurance to cover consignments, and we might fill out the penguin section with garage sale and secondhand store finds. The third section would be a little more difficult but could likely be squeezed into our store area regardless of size.
Why Indie Authors and Artists?
Indie authors and artists need all the help they can get, and we hope that this section will provide them with a jump start. We’d like to see them all become full-time creators if they aren’t already and provide greater financial security if they are. In an effort to improve their sales and give them greater freedom, our website would feature purchase options that included links to their websites for no charge and Amazon where I’m an affiliate. Buyers would have the choice of whom to support and where to get their books and arts. Having ties with indie authors and artists would help us with the most difficult part of the experience driven store we are working towards.
Creativity Boosting Activities
The Creativity Activities section would be designed to help people become more creative. Because creativity is a meta-skill, there is no limit to the number or types of activities we could do. I would include an instinctive archery practice to help people trust themselves, their instincts, and the ability of their bodies to accomplish what their minds imagine. This range could double as a place for yoga practice and other exercise classes because a fit body and exercise lead to better ideas. Our indie author and artist partners can have book or art signings and provide master classes in techniques.
We will give people who come in a punch card with a list of the activities available. That way they’ll know what they’ve done and what they enjoyed. There would be drawing, different styles of poetry, prose, movement, learning new subjects, and the activities would last between 45 minutes and an hour. Tables, easels, and lockers would also be available for those who need a creative space and want to make this a regular activity.
In this area, we would have a creativity research library with overpriced books meant to stay there. These books would focus on creativity and creative people. We will shelve a wide range of other subject matters so that the juxtaposition will inspire greater creativity through new intersections.
Online and IRL
All of this would be tied together with a blog that explores different subjects and explains how they are related to creativity. Travel brings you into contact with new cultures, ideas, and viewpoints. Reading introduces new ideas and allows you to see the world in a different way. Exercise is a good way to enter the flow state.
Depending on the location of the store, we would partner with local experience offerings to enhance our guests lives. For example, if we ended up in Dunedin, New Zealand, we would partner with the Penguin Place and the Royal Albatross Centre. As we grow, we would offer creative weekend and week long retreats that would include a hotel stay and a deep dive into greater creativity with several shallower dives into new activities. I was even toying with the idea of a boutique hotel.
Where Are We?
By the time my wife got her passport with its Green Card visa back, we were too late to get to the U.S. Airlines canceled flights out of Moscow, lines at U.S. customs were over four hours long, and opening a store would be impossible where everything was shut down and people were staying in for the good of the country. Now, we are looking for our pivot point and hoping for things to change for the better before her visa expires. Otherwise, we’ll have to start the 18-month, $2000+ process all over.
The good news is that this dream isn’t over. We’ve just put it on hold a bit. We have a couple of possible options to make it happen beginning in late 2020 or early 2021. We just need to be patient and find the audience that will support this endeavor. If that’s you, please join our Patreon and let us know why you did!
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