I find that I've come to use a certain phrase quite a lot recently: "This is my place." I often say that at the end of a conversation with someone who's just come into Taproom for the first time. As in, "It was great meeting you! My name's Jonathan, and this is my place. Thanks for coming in." I admit, I selfishly like saying that because it makes me feel good. I'm proud of what we've put together. I think it's stinkin' cool that I get to say that Taproom is mine.
The thing is, because of the atmosphere and culture at Taproom, over time I end up not being alone in using that specific phrase. The regular, the person who comes in almost every day for a cup of coffee, they start to say it: "This is my place." How does that happen? How do people start feeling a sense of ownership and belonging at a commercial business?
It doesn't happen right away. Everyone's got a protective wall, a bubble, a tough exterior that keeps them safe and comfortable. It's hard to let your guard down and become vulnerable - but that's kind of what happens if you call a place yours. You see, if a place is yours then it's your turf, your comfort zone, your home. When you claim ownership, you invite people in to experience some part of what makes you tick. If you start saying, "This is my place," you've probably come to the point where you realize that when you're there, you relax. You can sit back and be you.
One of the awesome regulars at Taproom recently touched on all this in a blog post. If you get a chance, click on the link and read it. I think it gives some great personal insight into how some people experience Taproom, how random connections can take place over coffee or beer, how someone can transition from a being just a customer to a being a belonger.
My hope is that more and more people can feel genuinely themselves at Taproom, comfortable even to the point of vulnerability, willing to let their guard down and invite people in, saying, "This is my place."