SOUTH DEERFIELD -- "This is a traveler s cafe, a little teeny travelers cafe," said Max Hartshorne, with a sweeping gesture toward his compact, map-filled GoNomad Cafe. "It's about computers, travel, and coffee. All the things I love."
Hartshorne has owned and edited gonomad.com since 2002, when he purchased the online travel magazine from founder Lauryn Axelrod of Pawlet, Vt. The popular site and international travel portal focuses on alternative and independent travel. Hartshorne, 48, and a staff of five work in an office in the back of the cafe.
"Now instead of saying come to my office, I say, come to my cafe. Every office should have a cafe," he said.
At the GoNomad Cafe, the menu is coffee, lattes, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries. Time at the cafe's five computers is a minimum $6 per hour, and there is free wireless Internet.
"About once every other month I go somewhere overseas," said Hartshorne, who was planning then to head to Austria . "I love the ambience of computer cafes."
At GoNomad, Hartshorne has created a total travel-themed look and feel, from the map cutouts on the wall to the guide books available for reading, in the cafe and its restrooms.
While Internet cafes may be more common in urban areas (and nearly fixtures abroad) , Hartshorne said the town sees a steady stream of visitors, thanks in part to its proximity to Historic Deerfield and the Yankee Candle Co.
"You'd be surprised," he said. "People go through Deerfield all the time."
And although many of the 1,800 residents may have their own computers, Hartshorne said many come to GoNomad to socialize or to take advantage of a faster Internet connection. The cafe also offers faxing and printing services.
Hartshorne said he was drawn to the location by its picture windows.
"I had another office down the street," he recalled. "I saw this for rent and thought, these windows would be perfect for a cafe. They look out at the world. And people gravitate toward a place that's warm and inviting."
In warm weather, a few tables are placed on the sidewalk , and Hartshorne said he made sure his wireless network would also reach across the street to the town common.
"We put up a plaque that says, 'Wi- Fi in this park thanks to GoNomad Cafe, ' " said Hartshorne, who admits he seldom passes up a marketing opportunity.
Fans and contributors to the GoNomad website have sought out the cafe, he said, but he's mostly there for the locals. To that end, Hartshorne is offering a variety of computer workshops, all geared toward beginners. Topics include selling on
He might add Internet travel research to the mix . He rotates travel-themed photo exhibits , not only on the cafe walls, but also as screen savers on his computers. This month, he's featuring photos from the GoNomad site.
Hartshorne supports local agriculture by serving eggs from area organic farms, coffee from Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters in Greenfield, and milk from High Lawn Farm in Lee. The cafe also sells biscotti made by Black Sheep Deli and Bakery in Amherst and chocolate-covered pretzels from Richardson's Candy Kitchen of Deerfield.
And Hartshorne is teaming with local farmers to start the South Deerfield Farmers Market next May.
"This town is 70 percent farmland, but we have to go to Northampton, Amherst, and Greenfield to find a farmer's market," he said.
Contact Diane Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.