Here, the old oil cans, reclaimed furniture, and aged walls tell a story. Countless coffee shops in San Francisco or Manhattan have recreated the same aesthetic, but many appropriate the grittiness of post-industrial America for coolness rather than necessity. There, someone has purposely stained the brick and scratched the floors to recreate years of labor and wear. In Toledo, progress has taken place slowly over the last thirty years, appearing subtly as new glass windows slowly replace the crooked black and brown teeth of an aged building’s facade.
We imagine Toledo as a space for creation rather than imitation. In Rustbelt’s case, this idea means visiting a coffee shop that feels authentically “Toledoan.” How does one achieve originality, however, when local history—and a post-industrial present—has been co-opted and monetized by others?