A nice coffee shop opening up in a community in Iowa is a welcome development, although not entirely rare these days. But what if that coffee shop is paired with a modern and forward-thinking shared workspace geared at attracting both short-term users and longer-term tenets? Now, that's definitely more unique.
Such a combination is now found in Sheldon, a community of about 5100 in O'Brien County. Fusion Workspace, a modern co-working space, and Downtown Grounds, a diversified coffee café, are two downtown businesses under the same roof and owned by the same business partners.
The businesses opened in mid-2020 and Iowa Adventurer has popped in a couple of times when in the area to get a cup of coffee. The building most recently housed Marigolds, a locally owned home decor store. Iowa Adventurer actually profiled them a few years ago.
The part of the building that houses the coffee shop has lots of natural lighting.
There is a booth, some bar stools along a window-facing counter, a few more comfortable chairs and a sofa, and a handful of tables with chairs.
It's not a bad place to have a quick lunch, play a game with friends, work on your travel blog, catch up with an old acquaintance, or meet to discuss some pressing business matters.
There's a counter where you can order your food or beverages. There's a fair amount of kitchen preparation space behind it.
The menu includes a widespread offering of coffee and other beverages. There's also a food menu that includes a lot of salads and sandwiches, among other things.
They also offer regular specials and desserts as well as other breakfast or snack choices.
You can even order ahead online via an app.
There is other merchandise for sale as well, including coffee grounds that are roasted just up the road in Sibley.
I'm always a little partial to merchandise in the shape of Iowa. These wooden cutting boards look to be quite nice.
There are a couple of shelves with lots of nice decoration that changes seasonally. There are also games and books that can be used by patrons.
There's Wi-Fi in the coffee shop to get work done. However, if you need to get a little more serious about your working or want more space and amenities, you can utilize the office areas in the other part of the building. That space? Fusion Workspace.
Those seeking to utilize the trendy space can pick from both short-term and longer-term "membership" options. They have annual, monthly, or even day pass rates. You can check out their nice website to learn more about their various plans and rates.
There's an assortment of space options with all different types of seating. It's all very modern.
The lighting gives this all a nice vibe.
There's also a nice conference room that can be rented.
A restroom is available to be used by both workers and café patrons.
As we begin to contemplate the future after this COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of remote work is becoming more attractive to both employers and employees. If office-based employees can have the freedom to do their job from anywhere, they may seek out communities that are less congested and have a lower cost of living. A town like Sheldon could be exactly the kind of place that is attractive to both native Iowans looking to come back home or future Iowans looking for a safe new place to raise their families. The towns (with perhaps the help of the state) that get creative and aggressive in recruiting these remote workers are going to benefit. A place like Fusion could attract those who want to work remotely but still have a regular or occasional office setting and interact with others to have an added sense of community.
I commend the efforts by these local entrepreneurs to bring these two entities to downtown Sheldon. It's the kind of thing that a lot of towns around Iowa should be looking at. What Iowa offers in terms of good schools, affordable living, and safe communities is attractive to many. If you no longer have to move to your job and instead the job can move with you, you can work wherever you want. Places like Fusion are a big step toward attracting the untethered employees of the future.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in O'Brien County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.