Your Shop as a Third Place

Your Shop as a Third Place

A ‘third place’ is a term in sociology that refers to a location or setting that is separate from the ‘first place’ of home and the ‘second place’ of work. In the book The Great Good Place, author Ray Oldenburg declared that third places are important for civic engagement and establishing a feeling of a sense of place. And if we’re looking to weave a sense of community into the fabric of your business, one where everybody knows your name, then creating a third place is a good place to start.

There are eight key principles that every third place has in common.

  1. They occupy neutral ground.

Visitors and occupants of third places are not required to be there and are free to come and go as they please. No one is going to give you a detention slip for being late or call your mom if you leave campus to get a coffee before coming back. No one is in trouble in your third place.


  1. Third places function as leveling places. 

No matter your social or economic status, everyone is equal in a third place. There are no prerequisites or requirements that would exclude someone from participating. Your business-as-third-place is not an exclusive club. Everyone is welcome.


  1. The main activity is conversation.

Most of us enjoy the communal aspect of making. In a third place, conversation is the main activity, but it is not the only thing happening. Let’s look at this in reverse; how many times have you gone to a retreat with a bag full of projects, and not come home with anything done? But you still had a good retreat, right? Having an environment where there is time and opportunity to talk to your fellow makers should be built in and encouraged in your business. 


  1. Accessibility and accommodation are readily available.

Aside from any governmental regulations on accessibility, your business as a third place must accommodate your customers and their needs. That can be as simple as offering multiple methods to finish a project. But more importantly, no method or person who uses it is better or worse than any other. Can you help someone if they’re a lefty and they want to knit continental? How about setting their rotary cutter for left-handed cutting? How can you expand your methods and put your craft into more people’s hands?


  1. Regulars set the tone.

They may not be named Norm, but third places always have a band of regulars who set the tone of the space. The regulars attract newcomers, and help the newbies feel welcome. They are your brand ambassadors, the first ones to sign up for everything, the ones that are on your ‘call first’ list.


  1. The third space keeps a low profile.

Is the emphasis on the craft in your third place? Or are you getting caught up in all the pretty extras? Successful third places are genuine and unpretentious. The setting, whether that’s a brick and mortar or an online presence, exudes warmth and embraces a diverse array of customers. Emphasize the craft!


  1. The mood is purposefully playful.

Conversations in third places are not full of tension or hostility. The mood is light. Make sure that educational critiques don’t devolve into negative criticisms and employees don’t talk negatively about customers.


  1. It is a home away from home.

Patrons of third places grow to have a similar sense of possession and belonging about the third place as they would have about their own homes. They’re protective of their home and look out for its well being. Whether that means helping you keep an eye out for the latest trends, or letting you know when something isn’t quite right, your third place occupants are invested in making sure that your third place is their third place, too.


If you’re interested in learning more, reach out. Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of crafting experts. We customize every program to showcase your brand, engage your customer base, and generate sales in a way that is nothing less than magical. If you’d like to work with us, contact us today to get started.

Anneliese Johnson
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