[hackerspaces] New Hackerspace Encouragement - What are your humble roots that got your space off the ground?

strages strages at gmail.com
Fri Oct 14 15:58:39 CEST 2011

Makers Local 256 got our start in October of 2006 shortly after the
first Tech Shop opened.  My friend and I thought we could do something
similar and cheaper so we started meeting in apartments every weekend
to work on projects.  Our wiki has been around since this time, but we
didn't get out first physical space until a year and a half later.  We
had 10 members at the time when someone asked everyone what they could
afford monthly toward a physical space.  The total came up to $810, so
we started looking for a place that fell within this.  Our first space
was a 750sqft shotgun house located on a busy road for $650/month.  We
were there for a year and double membership in that time, extending
our pay what you can afford model to new members just as the original
10 had done.  We then moved to a 2800sqft space with a $750/month
lease for the first 6 months so we could make improvements to the
building before going up to $1000/month.  We spent two years at this
location.  We're now in a 4000sqft building for $850/month, hover
around ~42 members and still operate on a pay what you can afford
monthly model.

We've visited many spaces over the years and a delegation of us
actually drove up from Huntsville, AL to St. Louis for the Arch
Reactor grand opening.  Thanks for starting this thread :D


On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 10:10 AM, Deech <deech at ninjacow.net> wrote:
> I looked back and found a few spaces mentioning this here and there, but
> nowhere did I see a thread just for it...
> So, we see new spaces springing up pretty frequently and posts from folks
> saying "How did you do it??". I'm thinking in this thread let's point out
> the humble origins and let new spaces know that they are not unique in their
> problems!
> I'll start, but I'm sure other AR folks can chime in with more details.
> First, we are Arch Reactor in St. Louis. We currently have about 2400 square
> feet in an awesome building in the southern part of town. Our membership
> varies, but we have about 29 full dues paying members and anywhere from 3-15
> supporting dues paying members on any given month. (our dues are $30/month
> and $10/month respectively)
> We have a lots of tools, tables and workspaces. A projector, mame cabs,
> laser cutter (in progress), 3d printer, cnc routing table, micro-lathe and a
> bunch of other great stuff. By most standards, reasonably successful so far.
> However, we started from typical humble beginnings. The first group (I
> wasn't a part of) met in the food court at a local Pizza World. They
> numbered around 8. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over what
> the hackerspace should be (grey hat or white hat), if there should be dues
> or not, etc. etc. Money was collected in a coffee can each week.
> That group finally split up over ideological grounds and they fell back to
> about 3-4 people still talking about it. That's about where I came in. A
> member that maintained apartments had an empty one that we were able to meet
> in for a little while. In the end, we only had 5 core members who decided to
> bite the bullet and agree to split the $500 a month rent for the first year
> to get off the ground. It was a gamble that paid off, because once we had an
> actual space, we gained members so rapidly we outgrew our first space in
> about 5 months.
> The rest was the easy part. We had enough members to pay the increased rent
> for a new space, moved there, and kept pulling in new members as fast as we
> could. We currently pretty much break even on the rent and bills, mainly
> because we charge such low dues, but we're making it work.
> So, how did your space get off the ground?
> -Deech
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