Less than a year after opening Buzz Maine in the historic Gilbert E. Gay building, co-owner Jennifer Van Horne has expanded the business, both in space and offerings.
Van Horne, of Swans Island, started the business with her daughters, Erin Van Horne and Torie DeLisle, at 133 Main St. in Damariscotta. Buzz Maine offers a “21st-century take on the workday,” Van Horne said. The business brings together all the elements of a typical workday into one location, from the first morning cup of coffee to a cocktail happy hour to end the day.
While the coffee bar is open to the public, the workspace and other resources, including conference room rentals, are available only to Buzz Maine members. Membership is available at daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rates.
Since opening, Van Horne has watched as membership has climbed to almost 40 people, many of whom visit daily and work remotely in a wide range of professions. Over time, Van Horne has watched as members have slowly migrated from the individual desk spaces along the walls to the collaborative workspace in the center of the room.
“Everyone used to be all spread out and working on their own things, but now they’ve all moved onto the big table. You can see a person get in and see there’s no space at the big table. They’ll sigh and go to one of the chairs along the walls, but the entire time, they’ll be turned toward the table and be a part of whatever’s going on,” Van Horne said.
The collaborative space has given workers who may have been isolated working from home a community to celebrate their triumphs with, Van Horne said.
“It’s more than just networking. It’s building a community,” she said.
As the business grew in popularity, Van Horne began to consider the idea of expanding. When the apartment above the business became available for lease, Van Horne jumped at the chance to expand the workspace and introduce more offerings to members.
“It really all just came together,” Van Horne said.
Over the past few months, Van Horne and Buzz Maine employees have been in the process of renovating the two-bedroom apartment to create new workspaces for members. They have painted the walls and put down new flooring in parts of the apartment.
The work resulted in two new conference rooms, the larger of which Van Horne calls The Kitchen Table. It overlooks the municipal parking lot and the Damariscotta River, and is next to a kitchen where Buzz Maine employees will prepare the organic goods served at the coffee bar.
The other room is now a designated desk space, with four individual workspaces overlooking Main Street.
Like the business below, the expansion is also equipped with ultra-high-speed fiber-optic internet. Tidewater Telecom Inc., of Nobleboro, recently installed the system, which reaches speeds of 100 megabytes per second, Van Horne said.
Over the past few months, Buzz Maine has introduced new evening programs that are open to both members and non-members, including the popular Wine and Knitting Wednesday, Van Horne said. Starting June 8, Buzz Maine will begin a weekly Painting & Cocktail night every Thursday from 5-7 p.m.
“There’s no experience required,” Van Horne said. “It’s just a way for people to get together and create whatever they want.”
Further in the future, Van Horne hopes to continue to grow what she called “the Buzz Maine revolution,” either through an additional physical space in another region or by creating an online network of resources and contacts through the Buzz Maine membership.
“You never know what one bit of information one person might have that another needs,” Van Horne said. “We really want to bring people together.”
For more information, find Buzz Maine on Facebook and Instagram or visit buzzmaine.com.