Reads & Recommends, Tuesday Night Edition

Giving myself a coffee shop pep talk

After our foray into Pricing Out Bulk Food Items, I totally lost interest. Well, it was more like the coffee shop idea was a drawer that was half open, and while I was trying to figure out if I wanted to open it all the way, it started closing by itself, slowly, but then tightly. And then, you know, superglued itself shut. 

A thing or two happened in the meantime which gave me a bit of breathing room. Not that I needed it. The excited urgency I felt was gone. Maybe we would do this later, like in a few years, when I was smarter and more capable and knew all the knowledge. 

Then about a week ago I was sitting in one of the few coffee shops we visit that has a kitchen and bakes in house. I watched them do their thing - a family, I think, and covered in flour and very busy, but laughing and cheerful. And I thought: okay, yeah, maybe that still sounds exciting.

And this morning we went to a new bakery (well, new to me) nearby and it was small, but bright and friendly and my coffee was good. It looked like a bubble tea shop, if you've ever been in one, with the couch and the TV and the board games. The owners are Vietnamese and they sell banh mi and steamed buns which Yelp raves about. (It was a smidge too early for banh mi, so I couldn't form my own opinion.) They had a measly and somewhat unattractive array of doughnuts and cookies and I thought: we could do better this. 

While Molly played a game on my phone and Emma drew all over a menu and we killed time before preschool, I sat there rethinking my Stance. I rethinked it all the way to preschool and back. And now I am sitting here writing it out so I can more clearly confront my own self and my deepset terror of Not Being Good At Something. 

Once you tell people you want to open a kid-friendly bakery/coffee shop, everyone starts telling you about the kid-friendly bakery/coffee shops they know. When I thunk up the Original Idea, I knew of two. Now I know... a dozen, seems like. And they're FANCY. They charge fees to play in the play areas. They have classes. They have babysitting nights. They sell T-SHIRTS. One in particular didn't start out charging a fee to play, but now it does. And I started to think: a simple kid-friendly bakery/coffee shop does not appear to be a profitable endeavor. You have to do all this EXTRA stuff to sustain yourself. Hrrmmm.

And even though none of these kid-friendly bakery/coffee shops are anywhere near me, I started to worry about competition and how to stand out. What would WE have that they WOULDN'T HAVE. I didn't worry about having customers, I worried about making sure our customers left and new ones came in. I got bogged down in food details, when that is CLEARLY the FPC's department and SHE is not bogged down. I worried about profit margins and catering to Seattle Moms and birthday parties and disinfectant and paying employees.

But when I started worrying about other coffee shop owners rolling their eyes at us, worrying about People In General thinking this was the dumbest idea ever and I have no experience and why in the world do I think I can pull this off and I CAN'T and OBVS I SHOULD JUST STOP THIS CRAZYTALK! Yeah. That's when I realized, today, that it wasn't really a No Longer Interested it was a Too Scared Of Failure To Be Interested. AKA: The Curse of a Three

A lot of people, I'm sure, would think that is a PERFECTLY acceptable reason to back off. I think it is too. Just not for me. Too many times I let the possibility that I won't get an A+ in something keep me from even trying. It is NOT a good reason for me. Not enough money? Not enough time? Not a GOOD time? Honestly no longer interested? Yes, good reasons. But the fear of looking foolish, the fear of not getting it right the first time, the fear of not being the best - BAD REASONS.

Okay, barfy phrase alert: the "place of growth" for me, is to recognize and "honor" (SORRY AGAIN!) my own wants, without being hampered by what I think other people think I should want (or feel or do or say or be.) 

I still envision a bakery with a huge display case full of goodies. A big space with tables, chairs, couches, and little play centers scattered about. A cheery face behind the counter. A simple coffee menu. Decor by Ikea and my mother's sewing machine. A chill storytime once or twice a week (my mom has already volunteered), but no classes and fees and parents' night outs and special events - hopefully we can make enough money on bacon cheddar scones, bento box kid lunches, peanut butter and jelly muffins, and birthday cake special orders. A place to hang out on a rainy morning. Staffed by family and friends. And, because I want everything I do to glorify God, a place of ministry without it necessarily being Ministry. A place that is good for the community, that gets to know its customers, that donates, is ethical, is open to being something more than a kid-friendly bakery/coffee shop, that can fill a need.

I'm still in. It doesn't have to be like the one in Queen Anne or the one in Bothell or that new one I just heard about in Lynnwood, it can be OURS. It can be what WE want it to be. And if I stop fretting for two minutes, I'm pretty sure that what WE want is a super good thing. 


ccr in MA

I salute you for figuring out what was at the bottom of it, and for not letting it be something to stop you. Go, Maggie!


Wow, Maggie. It sounds great. It is really good you figured out why you were backing off from the idea. You're right, that is not a good reason. I don't know when I might be in the Seattle area, but even if it is when my babies are teenagers, I'll be there.


This is the kind of post I think Elsha wanted me to read. I am very much a three as well, and I TOTALLY GET everything you're saying. Just the other day I ordered a regular coffee instead of a latte at the Peets inside the grocery store because I didn't want to be THAT LADY that didn't understand that you were only supposed to order simple coffees when the deli lady was running the coffee station. I don't know if that story even makes sense... Just trying to say I get this fear of looking foolish (and all the other fears too... YAY!!).


I still think you should open this coffee shop here, where there are no coffee shops like this at all.


How do I find out my place of growth? I am a challenger. So. HOW??


And I still really think you should do this!!


Um, I think I might have a little "3" in me, whatever that means. Because I think you just nailed why I am so terrified to commit to writing. Way to easy to leave it as a "dream" than to try it and find out I suck.
And I think your coffeeshop would be awesome. Wish there'd been such a thing out in the burbs when I had little ones.


You can totally rock this! I mentioned on an earlier post, but I want to mention this again: I live in Eugene, so just down the highway :). My favorite, favorite bakery in town is kid friendly and profitable (at least I assume they are profitable, as they've stayed open for years and are always packed). They really don't do anything fancy: they just have really amazing pastries, a few menu items (I hate it when you can only get sweet stuff at a bakery; I need to get some protein in my kids or they are monsters), and, most importantly, they have outside covered seating, with ceiling mounted heaters so you can sit out their for hours-and a sandbox. That's it. An awesome sandbox with some toys, a ledge to sit on, and a pulley system with a bucket. People stay for hours and their toddlers are happy happy happy. I drive across town to go there. They also do a pizza thing in their parking lot once a week-block off the parking lot and kids run around, they have a pizza oven out there, serve beer and wine. Farmers markets in their parking lot in the summer..

Here's a link, which makes them look much fancier than they are:

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