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The Gift of Time: TickTock the Anti-cafe

TickTock the anti-café, brings a new concept to Colorado, where most everything is free except your time.

Emily Gradisar, owner of TickTock.
Where to find them:
TickTock is located at 315 N Santa Fe Ave in Pueblo, Colorado. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 9 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm.

It’s an unfamiliar concept to most of us: paying for our time. In America, the majority of us are so accustomed to exchanging our hard-earned currency for physical products that when it comes to something as abstract as time, our brains grapple with the seemingly conflicting ideas. Not to mention we’ve been socialized on a grand scale to associate time and money the other way around. What’s that old saying? Time is money.

The newest addition to Pueblo’s downtown, TickTock, is challenging our long-held perceptions.

TickTock is called an anti-café: a type of business popular in Europe where customers pay for the time they spend there rather than the available food, drink and other facilities. Co-owner and founder of TickTock, Emily Gradisar, previously lived in England where she became familiar with the concept and upon returning to her home of Pueblo, opened up her own style of anti-café based on her experience with them overseas.

Emily Gradisar, owner of TickTock.

Says Gradisar, “I thought the ones they had over there were really missing a big opportunity for that really active, deliberate community building. What you end up with in places like this are folks of all different types and backgrounds coming in and interacting with each other, which they normally wouldn’t be doing. So I thought, well, let’s do that intentionally and really work on bringing people together.”

TickTock is the first anti-café to open in the state of Colorado and the second to open in all of the U.S., according to Gradisar.

Unlike traditional cafés, anti-cafés are about the space more than the product. “We don’t see ourselves in competition with [traditional cafés] because what they have is a really high-quality product. What we have is the space,” says Gradisar. Vast yet intimate, the space at TickTock encompasses two stories. And every detail is full of personality. Much of the art inside is provided by local artists like muralist Jacob Barger whose original design graces one of the walls on the main floor. A couple walls down hangs a ‘South up map’ – an upside down map of the world meant to encourage conversation and challenge perspectives in a creative manner.

Visitors to TickTock can stick one of two different colored pins on the map: white for places they’ve lived, and red for places they’ve traveled. “We feel in Pueblo like we’re isolated both from the state and the rest of the world,” says Gradisar, “but every one of these pins is someone who has walked in this door… Most of them are people who live in Pueblo, and just look at where they’ve been! We’re so much more connected than we believe.”

Rooms downstairs including a conference room complete with projector and screen are available to reserve for private use. The entire place feels almost like one big adult clubhouse – as cozy as it is spacious, as unique as it is practical. “Once people get their heads around the idea, they think it’s wonderful,” says Gradisar. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on the education side… With such a new concept it’s all about education and trying to explain to people why we’re doing it.”

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Community is key to TickTock’s mission. Says Gradisar, “We’re about community, not consumption. People value what they have to pay for… But what we really want people to value is their time.” The atmosphere at TickTock encourages this shift in values. It’s a refreshing departure from the norm. And its versatility makes no two visits the same.

That sense of community they are dedicated to building at TickTock is achieved in the finer details like donating the completed creations that come out of the knitting corner to local homeless, or their ‘gift of time’ program – where patrons are able to round up to the next minute on their bill at checkout and put it toward someone else’s visit in the future. “We’re really pushing back against this narrative that Pueblo is not nice,” says Gradisar, “I really think we need to stop buying into this notion that we’re not a great place because we have wonderful community here.”

As their motto states, a visit to TickTock is truly ‘time well spent.’ Says Gradisar: “We’re about being in the moment and using your time as fully as you can – whatever that means to each person.” Don’t waste another second! Take a step outside your comfort zone and stop in for a minute or two. See how quickly it turns into an hour.

Just eight cents per person per minute gets a guest unlimited access to all the amenities that TickTock has to offer. And it’s a lot. In the community kitchen, you can find coffee, tea and a rotating selection of pastries, fruit, and other small snacks. Mugs, plates, silverware, etc. are all provided. When you’re done, simply rinse your used dishes and place them in an available dishwasher and – presto.

Patrons are not limited to what is provided either as Gradisar welcomes people to bring in their own food or coffee, or have something delivered. Several board games are also available – conveniently organized by the time it takes to play them – along with a lending library, a knitting corner, a children’s area and access to high-speed internet.

TickTock is located at 315 N Santa Fe Ave. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 9 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. Each semester during the month leading up to finals, TickTock extends their weekday hours to 2 am. Those hours will start on November 13th for this semester. To stay in-the-know about weekly events like trivia and game nights or for more information about reserving private spaces, you can check out their website: www.ticktockpueblo.com.

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