I was reading in the paper today about the ongoing saga with Surly Brewing and its “destination” brewery. Cities are falling over themselves to court the company, while Surly remains coy about its plans.
This is all well and good, I suppose, but one quote from the article struck me. The owner of Surly’s described the ventures as “something people are going to travel to… It’s not like it’s just a neighborhood tavern.” What is so disconcerting about this statement is the lack of interest in place, as if being part of a neighborhood somehow degrades a product. And seems to imply that location is just another asset to be assessed be the numbers people.
Kopplin’s itself is in the process of moving, however, I would like to think that we were careful to take place into consideration. We wanted to look not only for a space that was bigger (though that was a major consideration) but also took a hard look at who we were and looked for a neighborhood that in which we could reside and give something back to.
The new location at Cleveland and Marshall does a lot to this end. It strengthens relationships we already have by bringing us closer to both Izzy’s and Sweets Bakeshop as well as put us in proximity to other businesses with similar values like Trotters and Choo-Choo Bob’s. Merriam Park has shown an embrace of using alternatives to cars through public transit and biking which is a value Kopplin’s shares. Additionally, the being close to a library branch is something Kopplin’s is very excited about as this kind of public investment in community is very important to us.
All these things, make the move, while difficult, seem good. It also explains why there wasn’t a consideration of having two shops. Once you exist in two places, you in essence cease to exist in any place. Kopplin’s is intent on being from somewhere and sharing that with others. While we acknowledge and appreciate that many people travel a great distance to be with us, we strive to create a distinct “place” (not a “brand”) for those people to enjoy.
All this to say that Kopplin’s moving is more about searching for a place to put down roots than a search for expansion and assets.