I’ve been thinking back to the days of learning of the revival of the old Hotel building in Harrington. Before the storefront was even a concept, before I really knew the owners. I recall the first conversation I had with Karen Allen. She spoke with enthusiasm about the possibilities of the Hotel. How many rooms it could host. How many people it could eventually create jobs for. I was so excited for them. The piece that made me feel like daydreaming was simply the fact that someone loved this old town and this old building enough to invest in it. I don’t just mean financially, I mean the kind of emotional investment one must have to stand the test of a revival this large. The day they finished a section of this building must have felt like such a huge accomplishment and one that didn’t happen overnight either.
At the same time it does feel like just the other day I was peering into the basement of what is now the lower level storefront. It was a dirt floor, there were no stairs and if you wanted to go into that level you were following Karen’s husband Jerry on a ladder that was the makeshift staircase. They were cleaning it out, leveling it out. adding gravel and packing it down for a layer of concrete. It seemed like such an overwhelming project to me. I was nowhere near daydreaming it yet as a space for myself. It takes special people to have the desire to make a checklist of to do’s so long your sheet of paper could roll out the door and wrap around the block. That is exactly what the Allen’s have done with this space. They just keep whittling away at that check list. The list may still be long but it doesn’t wrap around the block any longer. If you look real close you can see the end of the list way down the street. If you have spent any time in this building you will eventually be asked to take a seat at their table that has been the holder of blueprints, sack lunches and note pads with lists and dreams. You have listened to them daydream and you have let yourself daydream a little about the possibilities of what having something like this in our town could really mean.
I will let you in on a little secret I discovered about myself while I daydreamed with the Allen’s. I was absolutely not aware I get this way but if I know one thing about a nagging feeling is that others may have the same one. There is something intangible about having a new business pop up in your small town. A hometown that hasn’t seen a lot of new business until recently. (In case you are new here, Harrington boasts just under 500 people.) When us locals hear news of a building being sold the first thing we all want to know is what is going to happen with the building. We are usually incredibly interested… over the years business’s have come and gone or buildings have been bought but not much has happened with them. Plans of reviving spaces appear to be not much more than storage space on the Main Street at times.
Interest fades and I will only speak of my own frame of mind as I would not want to speak on behalf of all locals but eventually there can be disappointment. It’s the feeling of being a kid and having high expectations about a gift. One year I knew what my birthday present was, I knew we were going to Disneyland!! I was over the top excited and I was turning double digits so I knew this was the year we would go. We didn’t do extravagant gifts but my mom kept talking about how special this gift was.
When I blew out my candles I was shocked to open the big gift my mom hyped up. It was a giant doll. I felt instantly disappointed and that feeling was only leveled by feeling like a huge brat that I was disappointed at all. I mustered the best excitement I could for this big ole’ dumb doll because I could clearly see my mom was excited about it. She really hyped up my birthday gift that year, something she had never done.
You are really going to like it Julie!
You have been wanting this for a long time!
I can’t wait for you to open it, you will be so surprised!
I have no idea where I got this notion that we were going to Disneyland. I doubt I even asked to go or talked about it. The hype is what did it for me.
When people buy buildings there is this buildup of anticipation of what will happen and I’d be lying if when that doesn’t pan out or the business that opened closes it’s doors 1 year later it feels a little like we didn’t get to go to Disneyland. On one hand you can’t be disappointed in something you never asked for and on the other you feel like a jerk for having expected you deserved Disneyland.
When the Coffee shop down the street opened up, I was hesitant to try it out. I wanted the new business “kinks” to work themselves out a little. I desperately wanted to support them but I think when you live in these rural places you protect your heart a little. As if… don’t make me fall in love with you. Don’t make me fall in love only to find out you are closing your doors due to a lengthy list of why new business’s fail every year. Don’t make me feel like I deserve Disneyland. The coffee shop is headed into year 5. They are now what I would refer to as an established business. It was at one of their tables that I daydreamed about my own business goals. I was in the process of launching my website, this was at the time that I thought I could launch my site somewhat anonomously. If I launched without anyone knowing it was me then it felt much safer if it failed. That was my thought process. When I started going into the coffee shop I will admit I wasn’t in a great place. I was living in a rural area and I didn’t feel like part of the community. I didn’t feel like I’d found my place here yet and that can be frustrating because I’m from here. I resonate with people who try to move to small towns and fit in as that’s the best comparison I could make to my own feelings. A lack of fitting in. This is a transparent post, I’ve started and stopped writing this piece several times. I’m sharing this because maybe someone else has felt this too. Perhaps not even from my own town but if I know one thing about rural life is even though each small town is unique like a fingerprint there are also some commonalities.
I am an entrepreneur. I can say that today without cringing because Websters dictionary has spelled it out for me and because I have sat at the tables of some daydreamers in town that make it feel like I fit in somewhere. If you’ve spent any time with me then you have probably heard a couple of phrases, “O.K, daydreaming here…” or “Worst case scenario” both can be outrageous thoughts opposite on the spectrum. If I land somewhere in the middle I consider that success even though I am always leaning towards the goal of a day dream. We are now days away from a sneak peek at what is to come in the completed section of the Allen’s building. I will sign a 3 year lease with options to renew in larger increments on December 5th. When daydreams turn into reality that is surreal. This is about as surreal as it gets for me. The Mercantile will be open for Holiday shopping in December. We will close the doors for January/February so that we can do a proper grand opening in March. This winter break will be scheduled annually also because this is when calving season starts for our cow/calf operation and this small business owner will need some time at home surrounded by cattle and family. I have such gratitude for the support we have received from our customers, our community, other small business owners in our area and for people that make mile long checklists that create space for all the daydreams.