The office’s future remains uncertain for Pittsburgh.
Local coworking network Beauty Shop filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in mid-December, according to reports from Pittsburgh Business Times. The company has operated Pittsburgh locations in East Liberty, Downtown, South Side and Lawrenceville, as well as select locations in Ohio, throughout its operational history. Court documents for filing for bankruptcy by TBS inc. – the official name of the company – revealed that it had accumulated $2.7 million in debt, which it would settle by liquidating its assets.
Beauty Shoppe’s closure comes as no surprise to those aware of its financial struggles at the start of the pandemic. In February 2021, the company’s CEO Matthew Ciccone Recount Technically that 2020 has been an extremely difficult year for the company.
“For about the first three months of the pandemic, we were basically closed,” he said at the time. “But, I think we’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Unfortunately, the persistence of new virus variants and subsequent lockdowns meant that the light never came. While Beauty Shoppe enjoyed a rapid rate of expansion in the years before the pandemic – a 2019 story from the Pittsburgh Tribune review Noted a membership of 500, with a 150% growth rate in 2018 – it quickly experienced a downturn that forced it to close two of its Pittsburgh locations in the past two years. Additionally, Beauty Shoppe opened its largest location yet just before the pandemic, adding even more financial challenges during the first lockdown.
It feels like the full cost of COVID hasn’t been calculated yet.
—Josh Lucas (@sixfloors) January 27, 2022
On Twitter, leaders in the tech community lamented the loss of Beauty Shoppe, which had become a local symbol of the kind of flexible workspace that many innovators and precocious entrepreneurs need. Josh Lucasfounder or now defunct coworking space and tech entrepreneurship organization work hard pittsburghwhich itself closed in December due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic, tweeted that Beauty Shoppe’s closure “makes it seem like the full cost of COVID has yet to be calculated.”
His comments and the circumstances of the Beauty Shoppe and Work Hard closures point to potential permanent scars for the Pittsburgh tech. Although local businesses have seen major public offerings and impressive funding rounds over the past year, the loss of community-focused organizations like these could risk closing the way to the benefits of the tech industry for everyone.
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz endowments. -30-