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Summer Day Trip #4: Lanesboro, Minnesota

Lanesboro is one of my “what if?” places. What if we moved here? What if we opened a coffee shop downtown and lived on the second floor above it? After a recent day trip to Spud Boy’s Diner, my head was full of “what if?” thoughts. A quick real estate search showed that two storefront locations were currently available in downtown Lanesboro. One was right next to Spud Boy’s, a prime location, and it included a one bedroom loft. The other, just off the main street, included a two bedroom apartment. The asking price for both was roughly what we paid for our current house.

Breakfast at Spud Boy's Diner.

I asked Linda what she thought about moving to Lanesboro to open a coffee shop. Surprisingly, she didn’t immediately scream “NO!” Not that this is her typical reaction to my silly “what if?” propositions, but she often is my voice of reason. For this idea, however, she said, “Well, it would be quite a life change, but it would be doable.”

The doable “what ifs?” are the scariest. They are the ones that make you put up or shut up. Living in a regular house is comfortable. Living in the space above your own business, in a building that is 120 or 150 years old, would come with a certain amount of sacrifice. Lanesboro is a seasonal tourist town, too, and it’s doubtful that running a coffee shop would be a viable replacement for my current income. In other words, I wouldn't be able to quit my current job... So, would I really want to run a coffee shop as a hobby, while keeping my regular full-time employment?

What’s so appealing about running a coffee shop, anyway? In my imagination at least, it would be a place where I could, well, drink coffee. I imagine having short whimsical conversations with the locals, as well as the folks doing the Root River bike trail. My imagination never stops, though, and the idea of a coffee shop quickly morphed into a bookstore that served coffee. It was at Linda’s suggestion, actually. She said, “Just put your bookshelves in the coffee shop. You could use your books as inventory.”

Lanesboro needs a pet-friendly bookstore and coffee shop... 

Obviously all of our accumulated household stuff wouldn’t fit in a loft space, and putting my books in the coffee shop would solve a problem of space, as well as a problem of how to decorate the coffee shop. Then again, I wouldn't necessarily want to sell my books, and I wouldn't want a bunch of customers spilling coffee on them. But in the brainstorming process of thinking about an alternative life path, putting the books in the shop was fine. From there, we decided that the bookstore/coffee shop should be dog friendly, too. At this point, even Octavia was opening up to the possibility of “what if?”

“Can we do it?” Tavi asked? Generally, Tavi never entertains the idea of moving. I’m sure if she thought more about the ramifications of moving – changing schools, losing friends, etc. – she still might not be so eager to move to Lanesboro, but at least in the imagination stage, she liked the idea of helping out in the coffee shop (and being paid), and she LOVED the idea of allowing people to bring in their pets.

“What should we call it?” I asked. It only took Linda a minute or two to suggest Buzz, Books, and Bark. Later that evening, Tavi would draft a possible store logo. Was this happening? Was the “what if?” starting to transform into something real? Would I take a part-time job at Caribou Coffee for the next six months so that I could learn how to make all sorts of fancy coffee drinks? Was I ready to move to Lanesboro to start my “encore career”?

I'm crazy enough to give it a go. After all, I'm not getting any younger. 


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