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Hope Floats up in The Loft

Four paragraphs. For paragraphs to justify my business baby’s existence. The average paragraph is about 200 words long. The average word use of a person per day is 7,000 words with many speaking more. I’ve just used 135 and haven’t even said anything. Sheesh.

Four paragraphs to say what makes The Loft completely unique for any other place.

When I go through all the words in my head, I think, “There’s nothing that explains what happens in The Loft.” Sure, you can look over the railing to see the ovens opening to send that amazing fresh baked smell wafting up to your table. When you park your car, you’re like to get a dusting of fresh roasted coffee ash making you all the more anxious to place your espresso order of coffee that has been roasted literally next door. Who cares if they ship all over the world!? This is Camano Island Coffee. OUR coffee. It belongs to “us” even if we are only on the Island for the day.

But other places have similar things.

Food keeps people coming back, but it’s more than that.

There’s no drive-through at the Commons. What makes people love getting out of their car, coming in to stand in a long line for something other places let you rush through and never really slow down for? And they all seem really happy about it?

And when they bring that coffee and pastry up to The Loft where the tables are surrounded by original art all of which is made by local artists and artisans, they linger longer. They don’t seem to want to leave. They relax and laugh and pray and read poetry to each other. They get work done on their laptops or read or meet a friend. They bring their children and walk them around the room asking, “Which painting is your favorite?” They plan fund-raisers for the community, read each others’ rough drafts for their next book, discuss garden plans, meet up with their adult kids and even chat between tables. I recently watched two parties seated next to each other discover that they both have lived in China (one party was still living there) and both men had married European wives. They became friends.

There are counseling sessions both planned and spontaneous. There focused shoppers and those out for retail therapy.

There are girlfriend getaways and couples dating. There are teen boys playing board games. What?! Yeah, actual normal guys talking over a burger and not glued to their screens.

And what brings the locals coming back again and again to see what’s new on the walls? What brings tourists from all over the world to our marketplace where they linger - a family reconnecting on vacation - until closing time?

Other places have local art on the walls where fresh local coffee and just baked goods are sold. What makes us completely unique? People tell us we’re unique, but how do you put that into words other than “we’re unique” and all the other overused phrases that could be true of other places?

Maybe part of it is that we are completely G-rated and family friendly up in The Loft. That’s not very business savvy in a world that says, “sex sells” and that you need to create a feeling of scarcity to make a profit. I think our family-safe commitment feeds something people didn’t even know they were hungry for because they’ve had to keep their guard up to protect themselves and their kiddos.

But that’s just an ingredient. What’s the secret sauce? What words can I boil down to a single phrase to market The Loft?

When I span back in my mind over what words our visitors and regulars say, I can think of a few things. But the one thing they all say over and over is, “It’s so beautiful up here. What a great find!”

And while I do my best to create an atmosphere that warrants that comment, I think they are saying something else really.

I think they are saying, “I feel beautiful inside when I come here.”

No four marketing paragraphs can explain that.

I think part of it was set up for this by the owners. The whole marketplace was created to be a place - the place - on the island for people to meet up for any kind of occasion from daily coffee to community tree lightings and movie nights.

I think part of it is the current employees at The Commons. The managers are each SO amazing and truly care about the people who come through our doors in a way that is comfortable yet full of energy and fresh ideas. The staff are reliable and refreshingly nice in a world that gets bombarded with sarcasm and cynicism as the main course rather than a humorous side dish.

Even during Covid, we were the rare place where you could mask up and actually be in the presence of other people, even if you had to stay 6 feet apart. And while we couldn’t allow people to sit at the tables up in The Loft, they came up anyway just to stand from a distance and stare at the art that we put up anyway. And oddly we were able to see art sold anyway, even as we stayed Covid compliant which became synonymous with “depressing.” And yet there was hope somehow,

And now that we are hardly ever quiet up in The Loft anymore and finding ways to actually paint in my open space studio is more and more challenging, I find I love it more and more - because of what I sit in my corner and watch.

I watch pastors from different churches meet together and find common ground. I watch parents and children stop and sit and share a cookie and talk. I watch people on their way to Arizona or France come up for their last taste of what we serve here and just soak in the atmosphere. And I think I know what it might be.

That key ingredient. That thing that makes us so special.

I think it’s hope.

Served up in a setting that lets folks be “slower” for a bit, I think The Loft lets people inhale something fresh and peaceful. We let new and emerging artists hang side by side with award winning, nationally acclaimed professionals. It gives the upcomers hope that they can really do this art thing and reminds the pros that they actually have covered some ground.

Hope is a powerful thing. And though it runs deep, it is never stagnant.

I think The Loft, somehow, has become a sort of living portrait of the island at its best. A place that’s vibrating with fresh hope. The kind of hope that allows you to find some peace in a world that tells you that you have to hurry up and BE someone. Here, we celebrate that you already ARE someone.

We are one of the few places that locals love and visitors are welcomed like family. The Loft, Camano Commons, in fact Camano Island all reflect the gentle truth that you don’t have to live here to love it here… and belong.

That gives me hope.

How can I put that all into four marketing paragraphs?

How can I reduce that to one unique identifying phrase?

I . have. no. idea.

But I have hope that I’ll figure it out. LOL.

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