If you have come by the Travel Bug in the last few weeks, you have probably noticed the chaos.
There are holes in walls and book sections being condensed and reshelved. Counters are being resurfaced and machines moved.
The seemingly sudden and intense shift has been brewing for months. And I say brewing because that is the plan: Say hello to the Travel Bug Bookstore and Brewery.
The books and maps aren’t going away, and neither is the coffee. But by summer, if all goes well, you’ll be able to come in and have a pint of Travel Bug-brewed beer. Yes, Travel Bug is changing.
The partnership that has underpinned Travel Bug for the last few years is changing, too. Since the early 1990s, I have spent an average of three to four months a year roaming the globe.
It is an important part of my life as well as a part of my livelihood and legacy — I run Himalayan Moto Tours, a motorcycle touring company that operates in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. My dad started the company nearly 30 years ago and I took charge after he died in 2010.
Partnering at the Travel Bug offered a way to stay grounded in a place I love while at the same time providing flexibility for global adventure. I think the partnership offered Greg Ohlsen much the same: a chance to travel, to get away from the shop, while still keeping Travel Bug’s legacy alive.
The plan was for each of us to spend about a third of the year away, a third running the shop solo and the remainder in overlap to preserve continuity. And with few hitches, that’s how it went.
Of course, COVID-19 has changed all of that.
It is not just that we lost all of our employees and have had to man the counter ourselves for a year (something, while tiring, that I’ve actually enjoyed).
It is also not just that tourism in Santa Fe has dropped to nearly nothing, with dramatic fiscal effect. And it isn’t just that international travel is all but dead.
Those are factors, for sure, but perhaps more affecting is the palpable and overriding sense of purposelessness and anxiety that has come with a collectively uncertain future, while having no clear course of action. These conditions have worried difficulties into being that never would have otherwise existed.
My reasons are many and varied, but I have decided to leave Travel Bug to pursue other endeavors that will allow me the life I have been designing over the last several years.
I am sad to be going because I have loved making coffee and helping folks find just what they need, but I am excited for my future.
I am also excited for Travel Bug’s future. I mean, a bookstore/brewery — how cool is that? The parting is friendly and I’ll be manning the counter a while longer to help with the transition, but Greg is now at the helm. He is persevering, he is committed and he is adept. I have no doubt he will succeed.
Eric Moffat has been a partner at Travel Bug for 2½ years.