Kinko’s Campbell as a Third Place

Kinko’s Campbell used to be 24 hours around 2004, and as the only place open, had a vibrant late-nite community of regulars.

Later the hours were reduced by the regional manager, and then Fedex bought the chain.

On most nites, an eclectic group filtered in and out of the store:

  • saxophonist/chess player (He lived in a large customized van. I read a report of him possibly being killed by a light rail train.)
  • contract accountant
  • chef (with legal problems)
  • real estate title researcher
  • software developer (me) using MIRC chatbot scripts
  • some guy doing email address verification with a laptop left under a desk. 🙂

Kind of like “Friends” meets “Silicon Valley.”

Everybody was friendly – I don’t remember a single cross word ever being said. One chess set went missing one nite, and was presumed stolen.

In the early morning, a construction crew assembled, in full work gear and galoshes, with blueprint rolls.

The reduction in store hours ended the community.

Also, after the Bascom light rail station was built, it seemed like the atmosphere changed in the area. Staff had to deal with a couple mentally ill people wandering in and trashing the restroom, for example.

One other nearby store location removed all their chairs for similar reasons shortly afterwards.

Some related anecdotes:

The VTA had a cleanup crew in white spacesuit-like hazmat suits at Bascom station each morning to disinfect the elevator there. Surreal.

Once they had to dismantle a massive “log cabin” built overnight on the pedestrian bridge, which was a fire hazard to the structure. The “builder” could have just done it at ground level and nobody would have noticed for weeks.

Clickaway complained to the store manager over anti-competitive “free training” for customers of desktop publishing software, so he forbade employees from assisting customers with document creation. I guess they felt “entitled to a profit.”

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