Every once in a while, I’ll write a post about certain businesses, some local, some non-local, that strike me as being ‘aiki’ in nature. These will be businesses that not only work (at the time), but add that extra bit of ‘aiki’ to make their customers and crew feel welcome while delivering a great product/experience. Aiki is the quality, I believe, that makes or breaks a business. After all, serving the consumer and keeping a good team of people happy is what keeps a fair company in business. In order to serve the consumer, the business must be receptive to the demands of the time and always be improving and adapting to the market. They must stand fast in the face of fierce competition and stay true to their mission. Business is all about relationships, especially as open as communication is these days. Thanks to the internet, I believe small town rules are back. If a business shafts a customer, that customer will spread the word as far and wide as they can. On the flip side, if a business plays with our heartstrings the right way, this can also spread to the masses. If they don’t do this, they’ll go away. Sure, they may strike a big profit for a while, but sooner or later, they’ll be replaced by a more aiki business. These aiki biz’s will be creative and innovative. They’ll also be non-destructive in nature. So, in a nutshell, they’ll be aiki. I’ll be writing these when a great one really stands out to me. I wouldn’t write about them if I didn’t think you’d be interested in them.
So, to kick this segment of Aiki Living off will be an establishment I mentioned in a recent post. This establishment is Comma Coffee located in Carson City, NV right across from the state capitol. Okay, I will say, I lived in Carson for quite some time, and although you can keep most of it, that older part of downtown Carson has a special place with me. I really love the architecture from that era along with the big cottonwoods, and it’s a refreshing contrast to the subdivisions that are so predominant in this area. So, the location is great. I know a few of my readers are coffee connoisseurs, so hold on guys, I know, the coffee here isn’t some crazy awesome blend or anything. It’s good though, don’t get me wrong. I think they brew Alpen Sierra, which is a local brewer, but whatever it is, I like it. That’s not the point though. The point is the vibe. You walk in and you’re immediately looking around at the crazy unique furniture, catchy poetry, and quotes written in random places. It’s a mix of old, saloon style, wild west Carson City (There’s a piano hanging on the wall as well as one ready to be played on the floor) mixed in with a bit of spooky (they have kind of spooky, weird, slightly disturbing artwork and poetry speckled throughout the joint). Not only do they sell coffee, sandwiches, and the like, but they also sell booze. Yep, you can go in there and have a glass of wine with friends and be hanging out with the coffee drinking crowd at the same time which balances the place out. Another thing I like about it is that the random, super-comfy furniture is arranged conversationally. There’s different areas of three or four big ass cushiony chairs thrown in with a sofa arranged in a circle where you and your friends (or enemies) can chat it up without feeling like the creeper sitting next to you is butting in on your conversation. It’s also set up for live music, and they have a lot of shows from local talent.
Now that we’re past the details, what really impressed me is the owner, June Joplin (you can check out her story here, along with the idea behind Comma Coffee), and the idea of Comma Coffee. Comma Coffee is truly a labor of love for her, and it’s great to see someone create a place like this to share with others and make a living at it. Seeing someone take a risk on their dream and also seeing it pay out is a beautiful thing. Although I’ve never met her personally, I have seen her in there on several occasions, and can tell she’s in love with the place and the staff seems to enjoy her being there (at least they’re really good at acting like it). What’s really cool is the reason June named it Comma Coffee. Her definition of ‘comma’ is a slight pause in the sentence or a breath, a pause, the break between two thoughts. This is exactly what coffee is to me, personally. Having a cup of coffee signifies introspection and a slight pause in life. She has created the environment for this concept to thrive. I’ve gotten lost in my work there. I’ll go in, take a seat, get engulfed in a book, writing, people watching, or whatever, and the next thing I know, it’s been three hours. So next time you’re in Carson City, put a pause to the run-on sentence of life and step into the comma for a break.