Freelancing in Rapid City Part 2
Not being from Rapid City, it took some time to understand the personality of this little place - specifically, the areas and sections of the city. That impacted how I understood and viewed the business opportunities of Rapid City.
Moving here from a place as large, sprawling and traffic-impaired as Los Angeles, understandably I initially loved how small Rapid is. I could drive from my home on the West side to the airport in about 20 minutes (that was 13 years ago - it takes 5-10 minutes longer, now). I loved how charming our historic downtown district was, but other than pub-crawling, I didn’t spend much time there those early days.
Instead, I developed a comfort zone on the west end of town - Canyon Lake area, Jackson Boulevard, Sheridan Lake Road, Baken Park and the area known as ‘The Gap’ (the intersection of Jackson/West Main). I bought my groceries and gas in this area, I frequented the restaurants here and enjoyed my walks down Jackson Boulevard, Canyon Lake and the park. I took my dogs to the Braeburn off-leash park down Canyon Lake along Rapid Creek. These were my places, my niche, my scene and once my pub days tapered to an end, I didn’t find a lot of reasons to want to be downtown. I also didn’t have reasons to be in the East of Fifth/SDSMT areas.
But when I joined my first business network (September 2014) I suddenly found myself spending lots of time towntown. Our space was above Murphy’s at the corner of Main and 9th, and I took many meetings and classes in that location. I met with clients at coffee shops, restaurants and offices downtown. Suddenly, I found myself squirreling away quarters, to save for feeding the parking meter and overestimating my time to get to an appointment, arriving way too early at a bustling eatery at lunch, nervously scanning my phone for messages from clients.
I have taken more meetings now than I could count at Harriet & Oak, Murphy’s, Essence of Coffee, Pure Bean, Alternative Fuel, Dunn Brothers, Independent Ale House, Kol, the Journey Museum, the Dahl Fine Arts Center, the Rapid City Public Library, the Firehouse, the Firehouse Winery, the Wine Cellar, Botticelli’s… this list goes on and on.
But everytime anyone ever discussed the issue of renting an office, I always wanted to suggest two locations: Jackson Boulevard, or Canyon Lake. Was it the convenience of being close to home, with less travel distance (and less risk of injury while driving in winter weather)? Or was it simply that these places felt familiar, safe, homey, conducive to business?
When you work from home, as I do, there are challenges to being in that space all day, every day. Dogs barking and wanting your attention, laundry and other household tasks, the emotional weight of not being out in the world, seeing other people on a day-to-day basis. I’ve balanced that extensive time at my home office by filling my calendar, as much as possible, with appointments. Some of those appointments were fruitful - securing new clients, brainstorming with existing ones - and others were a waste of time and gas money. Sometimes, it was just good to grab brunch at Tally’s with a colleague and bitch about the freelance life.
Space is a critical part of our work life, even for freelancers, and as I begin the process of planning for the next place where I will live and work, it feels like a good time to consider the places that helped or hindered my business. I guess I never understood the draw of renting a space downtown - with the cost of parking, the heavy traffic, the congestion - but I’m someone who requires quiet and calm in order to work efficiently. Others are fueled by the noise and bustle of activity around them. And some, of course, require heavy foot traffic. I understand why downtown is of appeal. It just always felt like a bigger journey for me to get there.
What does location mean to you, in the city where you work or freelance?