Those of you who like reading writing on windows will recognize the title of this week's post (different punctuation here though). With this little allusion to our past, I hope to inform our future to some degree. The theme will also continue nicely from last week's post and hopefully shed some light on what Shatterbox is really all about.
GENTRIFICATION. : the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents
Gentrification | Definition of gentrification by Merriam-Webster
No, that's not what Shatterbox is all about, but it's a word that came up today in the box, and my reaction to it got me thinking. I heard the word (in context: "if you think you're going to gentrify this neighbourhood you're screwed"), and I got a little mad. I thought, "I didn't move Shatterbox as part of some grand scheme to push disadvantaged people further to the margins of society! In fact, I don't care what happens to the neighbourhood around us! I moved the business to ensure its viability, to continue to serve the people we've built great relationships with, and to build new ones! How dare you think I've got some nefarious agenda! How dare you walk into my business, a place where people of all stripes get the same respect as the next person - a policy I enforce strictly - and accuse me of wanting anything! You don't know me!!!"
And then I took a breath. And then as if to both of us, I thought, "Wake up."
The commenter doesn't know me. This person doesn't know what I am trying to achieve with Shatterbox. Unless I was willing to sit this person down and explain my feelings on the issue, of course they're not going to understand. They would have no way of knowing that I think it's naive and arrogant for anybody to think they can do anything as drastic as change the entire nature of a neighbourhood just simply by opening a coffee shop; that at Shatterbox, we understand that we can only influence what happens within our four walls. We can make sure that people enjoy their experience at Shatterbox, that they feel respected and appreciated, and that they leave happy. That's it. What happens beyond our little stretch of sidewalk is beyond our influence. I hope that by placing value on the people who come through out doors will in turn make them feel like valuable members of our community... but I can't make them, no more than I can buy up half the block and put high-end condos up. Nor would I want to.
I'm really bad at remembering old adages, but I'm sure there's one about happiness is less about having all that you want and more about wanting all that you have - although I think there's a caveat about what you need... I told you, I'm bad at these! What I'm getting at is that I'm grateful that Shatterbox exists at all, and that we have the awesome customers that we do, and I'm more concerned about making their days better than increasing property values. I hope that moving forward Shatterbox will be known as a place where you'll be served with respect regardless of whether you're wearing a suit or hemp sandals. I believe we shouldn't measure people like that, not by their clothes, not by their age, or by their anything else. People are so much more than their things or appearances, they're their experiences and relationships, their stories. That's the kind of community we're building inside Shatterbox, and I hope to see you there soon!
All the best,