Suds and Speculation posts are ideas I come up with, usually while drinking and socializing with friends or people I meet. The posts also use real data leading to some idea, or dream, that we can speculate on for downtown Raleigh.
Where is your third place? Not sure what I’m talking about? Actually I’m referring to the concept of everyone’s social environments throughout their lives. Our “first place” is generally our home, followed by our “second place” being where we work. But the term “third place” refers to where we spend time outside of home and work to get our social fix. One of the things that downtown Raleigh naturally offers are unique places for anyone to call their own.
Coffee shops, museums, bars, barbershops, they all play a role as someone’s third place. It’s where you go to see familiar faces or to be in a comfortable environment. The concept is huge in downtown Raleigh and was mentioned extensively in the 2009 Retail Market Analysis. (link to the pdf) These types of spots are all over the place.
The report mentions that the “third place” in downtown is important to residents and those that live in the surrounding neighborhoods. I think that is true for nearby residents but the ease of parking in downtown at night and on weekends allows anyone living further out to access their third place rather easily.
While barbershops have been an established “third place” in downtown Raleigh for some time now, a growing number of coffee shops now have longer hours and are drawing in more people. The increase in the number of bars in downtown has also created regulars crowds and bar owners that can expect business outside of the weekend. The regulars crowd is diverse and fits that third place description.
One thing that downtown Raleigh still needs is for third place options that are free. The easiest one that comes to mind is a library with public space accessible at most hours of the day. Grabbing a drink at a bar isn’t always on my mind and I don’t drink coffee so more options for third places would really raise the bar for residents and frequent visitors.
A bookstore would work also. I could see myself visiting enough times and buying enough books that they wouldn’t mind if I stayed in and read inside their lounge area. Just hide the power plugs and no one will mooch the space.
Being outside could be a third place to some. Moore and Nash Square are nice outdoor areas to be around. City Plaza on Fayetteville Street is also a great urban setting to stop and enjoy the scenery. The weather could ruin things though and you don’t get that “familiar faces” environment that shops and food places give you.
My third place is Landmark Tavern. It’s the default place to go whenever I can’t decide where I want to spend my time. In my head, I always compare it to Publicans in J. R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar. (great book if bar culture interests you)
I think this social, third place concept is something that downtown leaders should recognize very heavily because it is a unique offering when attracting new business to downtown. The suburbs have “free” parking but downtown has people, that you can interact with outside of work and your car.
More on this topic below.
Raleigh DLA: Find Your Third Place In Downtown Raleigh