Monday, May 17, 2010

Whistle Stop Co-op; Beverages, Books, and Bikes

If you live in our neighborhood, Othello, you don’t have to fork out a $1500 round trip ticket for an exotic trip abroad. All you have to do is show up in the center of our business district, and you will be in some exotic place resembling your dreams.

Othello’s center piece is a new light rail station that’s designed to resemble an Asian garden with pretty little trains whistling into it every few minutes. Surrounding the Station are plenty of Asian grocery stores, East African cafĂ©’s, Chinese herbal medicine shops, etc., etc. Oh yes, you will have almost as much difficulty being understood in English there as you would in Katmandu, especially if there are minor nuances involved in your request. Sure, you can buy a cup of coffee, but don’t try to get one without caffeine or with fat free milk. Come to my neighborhood and you virtually leave the U.S. half a globe away.

While I love rolling out of bed every morning into this exotic place, there are some things we need. One is a coffee shop that does serve non-fat decaf, known in Seattle as a “Why Bother?” and other espresso variations. We also need some semblance of a book store where people can sit and gather, read, study, and/or relax. But most of all, we need a bike shop. We are served by bike lanes and a magnificent bike path called the Chief Sealth Trail. But Othello is crying for a bike shop.

So I have a plan. With help from family and friends, we will solve all these needs with one unique consumer and employee owned business which we will call, “Whistle Stop Co-op; Beverages, Books, and Bikes.”

So here I am several years retired from my former day job as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. (There were too many syllables in that occupation too.) But I’m thinking about taking on a new career that will have an even longer title: “Shop Keeper of Three Stores in One: Whistle Stop Co-op; Beverages, Books and Bikes.” It will be a family run employee and consumer owned cooperative.

To prepare myself, I am taking a course in how to run a business and have already written pages and pages of my business plan. I have long lists of things we need, like espresso machines, and serving counters, and bike tools, and tables. Being an family of book worms, we already have a fairly large expendable library. The accountant/bookkeeper will be my husband, Dick, who is a retired mathematician. My son, Erik, will manage the shop and fix the bikes. He is well versed in those skills. My job will be promotion as well as making coffee. I hope to hire an assistant for the barista part because eye-hand coordination isn't my strong suit.

Of course, the most important thing we will need is a shop. This was promised to me by my dentist, Dr. Silver, one morning while he was examining my teeth. He was excited about my idea, and he just happens to own an empty plot of grass right on the main corner next door to the Station. He said he will have a shop built on it and rent it to us for the going rate that the Asian grocers and other shop keepers pay in the neighborhood. Of course, it will take awhile for him to get the shop built. That gives us time to plan, buy things, take more courses and make more lists. Maybe before too long I won’t be a retired old lady on a bike but rather an old lady shop keeper coming to work on a bike. I’ll let you know when we open up so you can come visit.