One of my goals for Calliope has been to create community around the shop and bring people together who love the same things. I try to do that through classes but my classes are so few and far between and you don’t always have a chance to chat and meet people in a class environment. The biggest hurdle I have had to overcome with this goal and with classes is my small space.
I use every square inch of Calliope to bring you the best and widest selection of stationery possible, and it’s really tough to do that and also have open space for people to come in and sit and learn a skill or to just hang out. When I hold a class, I have to drag this huge metal shelf up the stairs, clear off my main display tables, artfully arrange everything on the shelf or stuff it all onto other shelves so you guys can still find it and buy it. Then, after class, it all has to go back where I had it. It’s a huge pain in the butt, but I do it. And that’s the reason I also only have classes on Sundays. I’m closed on Sundays so that makes this whole process easier.
Recently, I had coffee with a fellow business owner. She offhandedly mentioned she holds classes in the mornings and a lightbulb went off. MORNINGS! My customer survey revealed a HUGE number of you who responded have never made it to a class because of the day or time. Mornings had NEVER occurred to me. How would I do THAT? Who would come?
Well I’ve been rolling this around in my brain for a while and here’s what I came up with: FREE PERIOD.
The first and third Mondays of each month, from 9 – 11 am, will be a sort of an “open work” time. I thought about making it strictly “this” or strictly “that” but the more I thought about it, I wondered “Why restrict it?” So instead of having one that’s all about calligraphy or bullet journaling, you can come and bring whatever project you like! Do you want to work on brush lettering? Or lay out your next month in your planner? Knit? Draw? Write letters? Come hang out here! You can come and do whatever you like as long as you don’t need quiet because I want to encourage people to get to know each other! Chat! Make friends!
OK but I am afraid of people.
As an introvert, this sounds like a bit of a nightmare to me too BUT I find I operate pretty well when I have common ground with people. When I go to the National Stationery Show, I can talk to anyone because we all love paper! I still need to lie down after like 3 hours but you get the idea.
What happens when I get there?
When you arrive, I will have cleared off my tables for you to come and sit with your project. Just come on in, grab a seat, and do whatcha gotta do! I’ll have music on and I’ll probably bring in my Keurig. Maybe people can sign up to bring snacks. Mainly I just want people to come and have a space to work on something creative for a couple hours and maybe make a friend. But you don’t even have to do that. If you want to sit and be miserable then go ahead but I guarantee you won’t be able to for long.
What about your whole THING with your products?
Well nothing will be artfully arranged on that damn shelf. It will be stacked up neatly on an open shelf or in a cabinet somewhere. If you want to buy something you know was on the table but you can’t find it because I stashed it somewhere, you’re just gonna have to ask for it. A few minutes before I have to open, I’ll need you guys to GTFO (or just move your stuff) and I’ll throw it all back on the tables!
So if I wanna come, do I just show up…?
My space is still really small and I can only fit about 8 people in here so I’ll need to institute first-come first-serve sign-ups to come to these. I’ll be setting up a group within my Calliope FB page for anyone who wants to come to these and that’s where I’ll post the sign-ups. If a lot of people are not able to grab seats, I’ll expand these to every Monday. But one thing at a time!
What is Free Period NOT:
Not a place to just sit with your coffee and shoot the shit. I’d really like this to be a space for creativity and growth of any kind. Will there be coffee and chatting? YES! But is it my goal for it to be ONLY coffee and chatting? No, please.
I expect some growing pains here and you should too! If I get to 8 sign-ups but we find only 6 people fit comfortably, then it will be tight that day and I’ll just change it for next time. Don’t yell at me.
SO what do you think?? Are you excited about this? Do you have more questions? And most importantly, ARE YOU GOING TO COME? I’d love to hear!