Waldo’s & Company: Cultivating Community and Creativity

By Kenzie Smith, Staff Writer 

Chris Lauer, a co-founder of Waldo's and the director and board president (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Chris Lauer, a co-founder of Waldo’s and the director and board president (Photo Sofia Gutierrez/The Gettysburgian)

Waldo’s & Company, popular among Gettysburg College students and the local community, is a non-profit art space and coffee house located in downtown Gettysburg. Waldo’s sells artwork made in-house and hosts events with live music. The venue has created a welcoming space for members of the community to be involved through volunteer opportunities and for local artists to develop and display their talents. It is also connected with the college community by hosting Listeners & Performers events.  

The journey of Waldo’s began approximately ten years ago in Chris Lauer’s art studio. Lauer, a co-founder of Waldo’s, put open studio signs outside of his studio’s warehouse, and people started to fill the space. 

“Friends started hanging out, spending time there, making art, making music, and I think eventually we started dreaming about what it would look like if we had a concert venue and more studio space and be able to support artists in the community,” Lauer said.  

After about a year of operating out of Lauer’s studio, what had become Waldo’s moved to its current location where they have been able to fulfill their dreams of expanding while sticking to their root mission. 

“Our main mission is making sure artists have access to equipment they need to keep producing. And the coffee house and community side is a way to benefit that as well,” Lauer said. 

Although community is not the main mission of Waldo’s, it is still a very important aspect of the non-profit. 

“We’re all about community. Making sure that there’s space for people to connect and be together that’s open after six o’clock and not serving alcohol. Making sure that there’s some space there for people of all ages to access,” Lauer said.  

Lauer made special mention of how the venue is a mixing spot for people of the community and students from the college. 

“I’m interested [in] intersections of communities that don’t often come together. I think this space is allowing a really neat bridge, especially between the college and community experience,” Lauer said.

Bar manager and chair of the artists committee Ethan Hartranft also spoke about how important it is to have a space like Waldo’s that is a place supporting local artists and creating community. 

“Giving people just a generally really easy way to, like, interact with and support just regular artists in their community I feel like isn’t super possible without an intermediary like [Waldo’s],” Hartranft said. 

Another volunteer that has been impacted by the non-profit is Gettysburg student Will Oehler ’26. Oehler first discovered Waldo’s during Family Weekend last semester and was immediately interested in the darkroom. 

“I walked in and saw they had a darkroom and was super excited that I could find one so close to me with a small charge that would totally offset [what] I was spending on labs developing and scanning my film. I spoke with Chris and signed up for the membership and learned I could get a discount on that if I volunteered. I felt I’d have fun making coffee so I signed up for both!” Oehler said. 

Oehler found more than just a place to develop his film and volunteer at; he discovered a place that would provide him with community. 

“I wish I had found Waldo’s my first month at college, it has given me an amazing community to be a part of and go to when school and social life is getting to be too much. Everyone is such an incredible person. Waldo’s has made an immense positive impact on my academic and non-academic life,” Oehler said. 

This article originally appeared on page 18 of the March 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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