Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Name Your Destiny


Get your candy & coffee, Tucson
Instant enlightenment in Prescott, AZ
Chocolate Iguana, 212, Novel, Little Sprouts, Winning, Laughing Buddha, Jungle, and Dominican Joe’s all have something in common and each announces their mission.  All of the above are local coffee shops and each is highly descriptive of their particular vibe and environment.  Names often say a lot about the place or the person.  In my ongoing exploration of non-corporate coffee shops, I have often been struck how the name evokes a certain experience.  Some are highly descriptive and original and the place is reflective of that.  In others a bland name tends to result in a bland experience at the café.  At the Chocolate Iguana (in Tucson) in addition to the usual coffee drinks and wi fi, they specialize in candies and cater to a high school clientele, the Novel  (Ocean Park) started in a hundred year old room with books the walls, the 212 (Ocean Park) refers to the street addresses and is highly local,  Jungle (San Diego) is set outside in a bamboo décor, and Dominican Joe’s (Austin) has a connection with Dominican Republic. Each is very soulful and original in its ambience.

Winners @ Winning, Albuquerque
On the other hand, check these names; Sip Expresso, Café Medici, and Bisbee Coffee .  They don’t say much and their interior designs are all interchangeable.  You could shift chairs and tables around each of them and everything would look like it belonged.  Creativity, originality, and sense of place is missing in these places.  They express a bland spirit and the name and ambience shows it.  Names are important. Along the road of life we all collect various names or labels.  Perhaps they are called job titles (dean of students) or roles we play (dad, mom, sis) or signify academic or spiritual achievements (Dr or Dalai Lama).   When you leave the full time career or the kids move out of the house or you move to new town, a grand opportunity arises.  Rebirth.  Like the first birth, you have a chance to be named and reinvented.

Sip Espresso says it all, San Antonio
Invent anything and it must be named.  There is an old metaphysical maxim:  Name it and you can claim it.  For those of us in the mature years who are interested in renewal or as AARP’s initiative calls it re-Imagining, it is important.  Rev. Michael Beckwith coined the Vision Process.  It can set the tone and direction of this potentially greatest time of life.  Of course, this time can also be the long slow slide to irrelevance or the reinvention into the life you always dreamed of.  Claiming this new or reborn self demands rigor of the heart, soul, and mind.  A useful first step is to rename or rebrand oneself.  Just like the coffee shops that choose a specific concept or name and made the two fit, we can name our new selves and then acquire the furniture that fits.   The zen quotation fits here:  Who would you be if you didn’t know your name and story? 

Dull name, Bland Ambience:  Bisbee, AZ
Where do you start?  Do you have a favorite animal?  A place?  Maybe a personal hero from history.  You could go to a guru and ask him or her what they see or you could open a magazine as Werner Erhard (creator of est) famously did in the 70s.  However you get there, take on a new mantle consciously and be ready for your life to look like your name.

4 comments:

  1. Speaking of independent coffee shops, if you ever decide to take a road trip in the Northeast, be sure to get to Saratoga Springs, where, on Broadway, you'll find Uncommon Grounds. Not only are their grounds uncommonly good, their bagels are too!

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  2. Thanks, I'll keep it in mind. Coffee shops can be a view into the soul of a neighborhood.

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  3. Great piece! The generic shops are missing the larger picture and as a result a chance to connect with customers. They're not selling coffee but an experience or vibe. A good reminder to present the authentic self, instead of the generic version.

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