A woman sis on the floor of a laundromat reading a book while she waits for her laundry. Pictured next to her is a cup of coffee.
These innovative entrepreneurs found a unique way of blending their passions with businesses that offer consumers comfort while encouraging socialization. — Getty Images/Gpointstudio

Reading, shopping, and doing laundry. These are all run-of-the-mill activities we do every day. Some we may enjoy more than others, but what if there was a way to combine them?

Data show that 74% of Americans currently prioritize experiences over material possessions. After spending so much time at home during the pandemic, travel has reached record heights and so has the “carpe diem,” reward yourself mindset. There is also a longing for social connection post-COVID-19.

By tapping into our innate need for community and the “treat yourself” trend, these six small businesses have mastered the art of blending spaces to cultivate comfort, encourage socialization, and reimagine the mundane or intimidating.

Book Club Bar

The Book Club Bar was opened in 2019 by Erin Neary and Nat Esten. It is a cozy independent bookstore, coffee shop, and cocktail bar. “We love bars and books,” Neary said. The couple wanted to create a space for like-minded folks who could enjoy a good drink — be it coffee, tea, or a glass of wine — a good read, and good conversation all in one place.

The timing was tricky given that COVID-19 presented challenges not only to a budding business but to one specifically designed to give its customers an impressionable experience within its four walls. But the couple weathered the storm by selling books via their website and delivering online book orders all over the city.

Four years later, Book Club Bar has become a very popular local spot that provides indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy one of the hand-picked books that line its walls. It also holds many recurring events such as poetry readings, book signings, acoustic music, literary trivia, and drinking and drawing sessions.

Garage Sale Vintage

In the fall of 2020, Josh Sampson opened the first Garage Sale Vintage location in Denver, Colorado. In an effort to counter the Amazons of the world, Sampson not only wanted to repel fast fashion, but he also wanted to make shopping fun again.

Sampson came up with the concept of a vintage consignment store where customers could sip on a cocktail while they shop. “Retail is supposed to be the social and spontaneous part of your day,” said Sampson. Each of the store’s four locations in Colorado and Tennessee is equipped with full bars that serve over 40 kinds of tequila, craft cocktails, beer, and mocktails.

Garage Sale Vintage has strict requirements when it comes to the types of garments they will accept from sellers. They do not purchase clothing made before the 2000s or fast fashion brands. They accept gently used items that are clean and in good condition. A third location in Boulder, Colorado, opens this fall.

Retail is supposed to be the social and spontaneous part of your day.

Josh Sampson, Founder and Owner of Garage Sale Vintage

Daydream Surf Shop

Becca and Kyle Kennelly combined their respective strengths and shared values to foster a collaborative, community-first space. Disillusioned by their corporate jobs after college, the two intertwined surf culture, specialty coffee, and an emphasis on quality over quantity with the goods they sell to launch Daydream Surf Shop.

Kyle used his economics education and investment savvy, along with his lifelong love of surfing and nature, to hatch this plan. With a fine arts and interior design background, Becca has been the driving force behind the aesthetic look and feel of the shop, as well as the unique items and crafts displayed on the shelves.

Daydream Surf Shop is intended to be a space for folks to meet and experiment with different kinds of surfboards, where handcrafted or hand-selected products are treasured and the coffee is ethically sourced. Nestled in Newport Beach, California, Daydream Surf Shop outgrew its original 2016 warehouse and moved to a bigger one down the street in 2022. The new address has allowed Daydream to host events such as film screenings, vintage pop-up markets, live music, and many other collaborative efforts with fellow local businesses and community members.

Supersweet Tattoos & Coffee

A new addition to the Echo Park area, Supersweet Tattoos & Coffee is the first tattoo parlor and coffee bar in Los Angeles. Husband and wife Travis DeWind and Erin Raeman opened the shop in 2022 with the goal of delivering an elevated “treat yourself” experience for clients.

From the feminine interior design to the friendly baristas serving Sightglass Coffee, Raeman aims to make her clientele feel welcomed and comfortable. “When you’re getting a tattoo, it should feel like a treat for yourself, and so everything we put together is to cater to that type of thing.”

Raeman also wanted to cultivate a safe space that’s inclusive for Supersweet’s artists. “As a woman, coming up as a tattoo artist, it can be a hostile environment,” said Raeman.

Through her vision and experience — 10 years as a tattoo artist — Raeman strives to make it an inviting place where the artists and customers aren’t judged for being nontraditional or wanting “silly” tattoos. DeWind and Raeman said they’ve gotten a lot of traction thanks to social media and are planning to expand the business into other regions of the U.S.

Harvey Washbangers

“Eat. Drink. Do laundry.” That’s the motto of Harvey Washbangers. Since 1998, this pub laundromat has been serving classic diner staples like burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes while folks do their laundry.

It also has an extensive craft beer list. “You won’t find a Bud Light anywhere in sight,” said Owners Phyllis, Pete, and Michael Lair, who take great pride in their establishment.

There are two laundry service options: self-service or full service. Self-service is the most popular option. Customers can choose from 80 machines that accept credit cards, debit cards, or coins. There is a clever light system set up in the bar that alerts people when their laundry is done. For full-service help, patrons can drop their laundry off and have it cleaned within 24 hours.

Harvey Washbangers was once a franchise, but the College Station, Texas, location is the only one that has stood the test of time. The Lairs also own Stella Southern Cafe and Clementine’s Kitchen.

Tee Line

Nashville’s first curling venue Tee Line introduced a new leisure activity to the city in 2021. After falling in love with the sport in 2018, former NFL quarterback Marc Bulger decided to share his passion and make curling accessible to his neighbors.

Tee Line has instructors on-site, and guests can learn the art of curling in a laid-back environment that also includes a bowling alley, a restaurant (backed by award-winning chef Joshua Simpson), and a fully stocked bar.

Situated in the Charlotte Park/The Nations area of Nashville, Tennessee, this relaxing, recreational zone is one of the few bar-type establishments in the neighborhood. For those who aren’t quite ready to hit the ice, Tee Line is decked out with over 25 TVs and plays college football on Saturdays and hosts NFL watch parties on Sundays.

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