When attending events it isn’t uncommon to fill out a name tag; it tends to include your name, where you work, and what you do. CreativeMornings does things a little differently, in addition to your name, and Twitter handle, attendees are asked a question that relates to each month’s theme. For September I was asked what is something “normal” I think is magical. Given the early hour and my caffeine dependency, I picked coffee. This month CreativeMornings invited Pete Cowdin, co-founder of Rabbit Hole, to discuss Magic.
Cowdin’s The Rabbit Hole plans to be the world’s first Explorastorium, an immersive and ever-changing experience in children’s literature. But isn’t all children’s literature magical? Does a place dedicated to this need to exist? The short answer is yes. The reason why is longer and speaks to a bigger issue. Only 55% of parents regularly read with their children. Rather a family experience reading is homework, a chore, a task that has to be incentivized or rewarded. It has lost its magic. Somehow a reading, an activity that invites people to learn new things and create new experiences, has become a mundane task. As accessing literature has become more convenient words have become a commodity. Libraries and bookstores have given way to tablets and Amazon deliveries. While convenience has its place, there are few things like wandering through a bookstore, turning through the pages of a book, and deciding to take it home with you, to commit to experiencing that story.
The Rabbit Hole wants to bring the joy back to reading for kids and their families, to create a desire to build new experiences. The Rabbit Hole will be ever-changing to ensure each visit is different and filled with novelty. When customers have novel experiences they want to come back, to see what is new or different each time. Suddenly reading is an adventure, going to the bookstore is the beginning of the journey. The neighborhood bookstore faces similar challenges to the local grocery store. Offering convenient ordering options, i.e. online, is important but creating reasons to visit a traditional location will build customer loyalty. We often think of grocery shopping as a mundane, necessary task, the items we buy are commodities, things we need to live. When really, creating meals is part science and a little magic. If we share the magic that can happen in the kitchen, how we can transform items in our carts to culinary experiences, create events in store that people want to see, shopping is no longer an item on the to-do list, it becomes something we look forward to doing.
Had I been better caffeinated at the beginning of CreativeMornings I would have put a different answer to my name tag question. Something “normal” I think is magic is grocery shopping. I love walking up and down the aisles of a store, seeing what is new or new to me, deciding what I can create that week. Do I want to travel to Italy or Thailand? Do I want to hang on to summer just a bit longer with strawberries or lean into autumn with squash? Not surprisingly, I also read cookbooks. I sit down and experience the pages, the recipes, the stories behind them. There’s magic in the words and magic in what we, as shoppers and cooks, can create. Just Cowdin looks to bring the magic back to reading, grocers have the opportunity to bring magic back into cooking. All it takes is a little wonder and a whole lot of joy.