By Theodore Tollefson One of the most popular new businesses to the downtown Hastings scene in the past couple years has been the video game, board game and comic store, Level Up Games. Sharing space …
By Theodore Tollefson
One of the most popular new businesses to the downtown Hastings scene in the past couple years has been the video game, board game and comic store, Level Up Games. Sharing space inside the building that houses Level Up Games is the small coffee shop named Geek Haven Coffee.
Both businesses opened in the summer of 2019, Level Up Games during that June and Geek Haven Coffee in July. Just this last March, Geek Haven went under new ownership from one of its own barista’s, Amanda Olson. Olson had been working as a barista full-time since Geek Haven opened and was excited when the ownership baton was passed onto her.
“The original intention of the coffee shop was to have beverages and stuff for people who are here playing games,” said Olson. “I think it makes it more of a destination kind of experience. You can spend the whole afternoon here and since there’s all kinds of restaurants around here, too, that also helps. It was always an idea that I really liked, to have a lot of ownership with a coffee shop but also working there, too.”
Since opening, Geek Haven has been the only coffee shop on 2nd Street in downtown Hastings. The next closest coffee shop to the downtown location is Froth and Cork off 4th Street and Highway 61. The location of Geek Haven has also helped to draw in customers who do not fit the typical clientele of those who walk into their building on a weekly basis.
“I mean, we do focus more towards things like branding for people who come into the store for games and events, and we definitely have something for everybody. You know, it’s not just a bunch of nerds hanging out. We’re definitely here for everybody. We do have a lot of people that come in just for coffee and don’t even look at the games,” said Olson.
The staff at Geek Haven is also very small for the community that it serves. Currently there are only two baristas alongside Olson at Geek Haven. This brings familiarity and great connections for the barista with customers who are regulars and day time shoppers visiting downtown Hastings.
“Since our group is really small, there’s three of us in total. Two other baristas and myself, we feel super connected to each other. All three of us take a lot of ownership in what we’re doing and sometimes I get the impression that this kind of a job instead of a chain coffee shop is something you really enjoy doing. I feel like people are a little bit more passionate about what we’re doing just because it’s so unique,” said Olson.
The ownership title is a new one for Olson. Since becoming the owner of Geek Haven in March, Olson has experienced her first business ownership in her life. With that, Olson has inherited a business she hopes to have flourish as it continues to grow.
“This is the first business that I’ve ever owned so there was a lot of learning, a lot of new things that I learned about how to run a business. A lot of my goals have just been trying to get people to recognize that we’re here and continuously making sure that our products that we serve are top notch. People are excited to come back because of the fall treats we serve. I only have a few months under my belt, it’s hard to know what it’s going to be like in a year,” said Olson.
Collaboration with other businesses in Hastings is another important measure of growth for Olson. The downtown Hastings business scene is home to many businesses that are owned by women. Olson being one of the newest additions to the ownerships in the downtown scene, she is already looking to others in the community to help collaborate their businesses to grow.
“A lot of the things I want to deal with is building community with other places down here, like with the Onion, for example, we have talked about doing some things together. They have talked about using
our espresso and some of the drinks that they serve, or in some of the desserts that they’ve done. And since we also partner with Spiral Co-op for wraps and other food that we serve on the weekends, just doing more things like that, and working together as a community,” said Olson.
In finding ways to grow her business with the community in Hastings and the uniqueness of Geek Haven Coffee, Olson also hopes to expand the menu items at Geek Haven as growth continues for the year to come.
“I like the idea of having something for everybody. We’ve got coffee items and not coffee items. That breaks it down really easily and to what people want, because not everybody likes coffee, not everybody’s a tea drinker. So finding a little something for everybody and we have a lot of sweet treat options for food right now. We hope to have something a little bit more in the months to come,” said Olson.
Although Geek Haven Coffee lives inside the same building as Level Up Games, it has managed to find a way to make itself distinct from the business it shares space with. Both businesses are still fairly young in Hastings and ownership. Yet that will not stop Olson from finding ways to keep the uniqueness of her business alive and expand the options of what Geek Haven has available on its menu.