Back in August 2017, Stephanie Cash had high hopes for her new business, Workmix Coworking Lounge.
Located at 950 Randolph St. in downtown Napa, Cash opened the “upscale coworking space and lounge” for anyone needing a space to work, meet with a client or host a meeting or event.
Amenities for both members and walk-in customers included an espresso bar, a community table, music, art and other perks.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
The coworking space closed on Friday, Aug. 16.
“We’ve had so many great things going on in here (and) great people” using the space, she said.
“It’s just the volume wasn’t there,” said Cash, adding it wasn’t making enough money and there were too few people using it.
Cash said it can take as long as five years to build such a business. If she had more time, that would have made a difference, she said.
“The bottom line is I didn’t have the deep enough pockets to sustain this,” said Cash. “I just had to make the decision.”
In 2016, Workmix prices ranged from an hourly rate of $12 or day rate of $35. Different-sized suites rented for $50 to $150 an hour and memberships started at $275 per month.
Even though membership was steady, business wasn’t consistent enough, especially during the summer months when customers and members would take time off from work or travel.
“They all said, ‘We’ll be back in the fall.’ I was gung-ho on holding out as long as I could but … that was lost revenue,” she said.
Cash works full time as a space planner.
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The small business owner said she often heard how Napa really needed such a coworking space. If that’s true, “I wish more people would have come,” she said. “I feel like with small businesses we don’t always have the support of the community.”
She tried a variety of promotional ideas to increase revenue. She hosted special events and tried online ads. “I was voted best co-work space for 2019” in Napa by the North Bay Bohemian, she said.
Coworking in the United States has gained popularity, reports statista.com. According to that data service, in 2017 there were more than 4,000 coworking spaces in the U.S.; this number is predicted to increase to over 6,200 by 2022.
In 2017, there were 1.18 million people who worked in coworking spaces worldwide. In the United States, there were 542,000 people working in coworking spaces in that year. Manhattan was the largest coworking market in 2018, statistics show.
Another challenge Cash said she faced was the wine industry custom of offering free product samples and discounts between merchants. Customers would often ask for a deal, she said, for example free or reduced-price visits in exchange for social media posts.
“A lot of people wanted to do trades or a big discount and I just couldn’t accommodate” every request, she said. Sometimes she would give discounts, “but I think that was part of my demise as well.”
“I tried to do what I could, but there’s no way I could sustain that,” she said.
Unlike some other small business owners who have cited rising rents as a reason for leaving downtown Napa, Cash said that wasn’t the case for her.
“I had wonderful landlord,” she said. Yes, it was hard seeing some other businesses close around her, but “I knew what my rent was” going into the lease.
Cash said she wanted her customers to know that “I really enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people and business owners and entrepreneurs. And I’ve appreciated all their kind words (about) what a great place this is.”
“Who knows, I may open Workmix somewhere else.”
At the same time Workmix closed, signs advertising a new coworking provider called Spaces were installed across the street at the First Street Napa complex. That business will be located at 1300 First St., across from Napa Valley Jewelers.
This story has been updated to reflect the correct location of the Spaces coworking area.