A Case of Mistaken Identity

How a few streamers and balloons turned a hole in the wall to a happening joint.

So, the bane of the Flying Camel since it opened has also been one of its charms: it's really easy to overlook a hole-in-the-wall jazz club tucked away in a liminal space halfway down the stairs. With no storefront facing the street, it's easily overlooked in comparison to the other businesses that share the address.

I've been trying to remedy this since taking stewardship of the vestibule. I unblocked a window a week ago and that alone got a number of people taking the stairs to pop their head in and ask how long there's been a bar here.

For the grand opening, we decided to decorate the outer door with balloons and streamers. It still wouldn't be visible from Potomac Street, but we thought we might catch some eyes.

And we did!

So, here's a funny thing: many of the other businesses on the other floors of this building: they have event spaces, too. One of them hosted a wedding reception today, and another a baby shower.

And it turns out that when people are trying to figure out where to go for a festive event, a few balloons and streamers can send exactly the sort of confusing primal signal that so famously draws moths to a flame.

So while we got a good crowd in (many of whom learned the Flying Camel existed for the first time when the bookstore opening made the local paper of record), we also had a lot of confused wedding and shower guests who wandered in off the stairs.

Happily, I was able to most efficiently help them on their way by directing them to the building's shared elevator, which has labels beside each floor for the venue it contains.

The elevator is right down the hallway from our front door.

The hallway is the bookstore.

Obviously, these guests laden with gift bags didn't stop and buy anything, but that's a few dozen people who now know we exist and (I hope) who had a really good introduction.

If nothing else, it was nice to know that my little bookstore won't always be the hardest place to find on the block.

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