Tomorrow marks a major milestone in my life. Not only is it our ninth anniversary as the commonplace, it is also officially the longest I have every lived anywhere in my life. Growing up, my dad thought it was appropriate, for whatever reason, to move (on average) every two years. Sometimes that just meant making a small move across town or across the city but also it meant that we moved to a different state sometimes. I have lived in Texas, Virginia, Rhode Island, back to Texas, Kansas then North Carolina. I have lived in Longview, Dallas, Norfolk, Scituate, Coventry, West Warwick, Meade, Rocky Mount, Raleigh, Buies Creek, Waxhaw, and Charlotte. Now, I am from Indiana, PA. I guess I have become a “townie.” I remember the day I found out about Indiana, PA – Ray Ciervo called when Julie and I were living in our ’74 VW Van – trying to figure out what to do with our lives. We had just finished grad school and decided the best way to “find ourselves” was to put everything that was valuable to us in a 10’x10’ storage room and drive our van until we found a suitable place to live. Ray called and said there was a college town (with no Starbucks – at the time) where a café had closed.
After some friends helped us out with some money and a little bit of a decision making we started to set up roots here. I remember the first day. March 11, 2003. What were we thinking? We sold $111.20 worth of coffee that day. Not only was I nervous we had made a bad decision – I was certain we couldn’t live off of this kind of daily sale. 3 weeks after we opened (without health insurance) we found out Soren was growing inside Julie. I remember breaking down when a husband and wife walked in (she was nine months pregnant and he was an insurance agent). Dave and Lisa Smith probably never knew how much they made us feel at home. I will be forever grateful for Ray making that call -for Bob Santos and Bernie Wilke not letting $111.20 be our daily sales. I think Bernie spoke to every student at IUP in 2003 about us. I appreciate the Fergusons, the Sherwoods, the Cavalancia’s, the Rogerson’s, the Mckelvy’s, and countless others that were early believers of the commonplace. I will be forever grateful for the Walker’s spending nice days off with us. I can’t thank the Meil’s enough for letting us live in their basement when a car hit our house. I can’t thank everyone enough that helped us on the day our roaster vent caught on fire and people pitched in to help us get ready for the next day’s sales. I am not sure a Commonplace would have ever made it without Mark Nicoll’s help with all the things he has done. I remember Gary Arblaster coming in with a suit on that day and removing his jacket and tie and rolling up his sleeve asking what he could do to help. I can’t thank Bob Hinrichson enough for making sure that noone would steal the couches or make the young ladies that worked in the mornings wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Where would we be without the protection of officer Bob? Dave Fairman would always make sure the young ladies that closed the store at night felt safe and would check in with them as he closed the laundry mat. I am so grateful for Jeff and Linda Ference for countless meals of encouragement and times to just be our friends. I am sure that the commonplace wouldn’t still exist if it hadn’t been for the Sutfins – David’s constant business help and friendship has been so valuable and Kristen has been such a help and encouragement. I am very thankful for my mom helping us open – I am convinced those first days would have been impossible without her. I know there are so many that make up and have carved out what you now know of The Commonplace.
Today, we have 3 boys, a couple of stores, a warehouse and a second warehouse that is on the verge of being born. We have been through some really, really difficult times: Soren battled Kawasaki disease and almost lost, my father lost a difficult battle with cancer, a car (while being chased by State Troopers going 60+ mph through our cute little streets) lost control and slammed into our house . We have also had some really awesome times that have been highlighted by our relationships that have been forged in the commonplace – through it all we have been settling into a nice small town – my home.