Vor etwa drei Jahren hat Thomas seine Druckstatt in der Karl-Heine-Straße eröffnet, ein Coffee- und Copyshop zugleich, in dem jeder seine Ideen auf Papier, Keramik oder Textil bringen kann.
Damals waren wir zufällig beinahe seine ersten Gäste und freuten uns, endlich einen guten Espresso in der Nähe trinken zu können. Inzwischen hat Thomas sein Geschäft erweitert und es gibt nun eine räumliche Trennung zwischen trinken und drucken.
Wir führten das Interview auf Englisch. Eine Übersetzung kommt, falls wir ein wenig Zeit finden.
Why you are here in Leipzig and in this part of the city?
I moved to Leipzig because my wife got a job in the Leipzig International School. I've been doing graphic design for a company in the US for about 13 years. Since I was working for them online, it didn't really matter where we moved. We just got lucky when we moved here. That was waaayyy back in 2002, before everyone thought Leipzig was cool. Yes, I know my German is horrible for having lived here that long.
What you are doing here
When my first daughter was born (6 years ago) I decided to rent an office and turn my home office into her baby room. When business started picking up, I decided to open a cafe and work from the back office, rather than just renting a larger office. The concept was to open a cafe with good coffee and allow other people to use my printing equipment. It was as much a workspace as it was a cafe.
Was it important to start this in this quarter or could it be elsewhere?
I don't think my concept would have worked in many of the other quarters. I wasn't professional enough. I didn't really know what I was doing at the time. I was and still am a graphic designer, not a real businessman. I've had to learn it out of necessity.
What changed in the last four years?
I don't see as many crazy people fighting in the streets anymore. Also, more shops opening up. I think in the next four years there won't be a free shop on the street. I just hope they all stay independently owned and operated. That's what gives the place it's charm. Surprisingly, there has also been more crime and vandalism. I can't tell you how many times I've come out to find someone laying in, pissing in, or stealing plants from my bath tubs. That never happened when I first opened.
Could you tell us a story about these „crazy fighting people”?
There have been girls screaming at each other in the middle of the street at 3am. There was one time at the stop light when a woman jumped out of her car, ran up to the car in front of her and tried to pull the guy out through the window. She wasn’t that big, so I’m not sure how she thought she could do that. Come to think of it, there have been several times that people have stopped their cars and jumped out to confront someone at that stop light. Maybe it’s cursed.
As I mentioned earlier, I once walked into the restroom to find an older guy putting a giant chain back into his bag. When I say “giant”, I mean it huge. Much larger than a typical chain for locking a bike or something. I was so surprised I just stood there for a second. He just gave me a look as if to say, "what? you’ve never seen a chain before?” Well no I haven’t. Not unless it was attached to a boat anchor… and not in my restroom. He left without saying a word.
What about the change do you like or not like?
I like that more people appreciate the area and want come here. I sell more of my designs, coffee and hotdogs that way. I keep hearing about gentrification and the rising rents, but I haven't seen it myself. My rent has stayed the same and I can't imaging Herr Ortleib raising it. I think he's happy that I'm a good tenant... I hope so anyway. To be honest, I think I've been in my own little bubble for the past 4 years while trying to build businesses that I'm happy with. There are probably a lot of changes that I'm not really aware of. I've just been in the background doing my own thing.
So do you think People here are more patient or playful?
I think they are more playful or patient for the most part. We chat and joke around with people in the shop and cafe a lot. They almost always come back. The unhappy or rude people don’t come back that often, but I don’t mind. Life is stressful enough. The patient, playful people are much more plentiful than the rude ones. I don’t know if we’ve just been lucky or if we attract that kind of customer. We go out of our way to help people when we can and people seem to appreciate that.