Proximity is excited to introduce Main Street MI, Clarkston, Michigan’s newest coworking space to the Proximity Network! Located in a repurposed 1880’s carpenter shop, Main Street MI offers open concept spaces as well as individual workspaces, wifi, printers, and free coffee! We caught up with founder Brandon Still to hear more about his space!
When did you open your coworking space and what enticed you to do so?
We opened in 2019. Our mission is to bring coworking into the “main street” towns of Michigan where amenities for small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and work-from-home employees are not as common as they are in the bigger cities.
Tell us about your space. How big is it? What kinds of amenities do you have? What sort of quirks make it special?
Our building was built in the 1880s as a carpenter’s shop. Through the years it has served carpenters, blacksmiths, as a general store, antique store and now a coworking space! It is two stories, each about 1200 square feet. We have private offices on the second floor and the ground floor is all open concept. We provide great wifi, basic printing, 24/7 access and plenty of free coffee from our local coffee shop. The original hand hewed wood beams and a rough and worn-wood 150-year-old wood floor are the centerpieces of our otherwise white-washed and ship-lapped interior.
What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space?
My favorite part of operating a coworking space is meeting all of the different people who come in to check us out. We are situated in a town of only 900 people on the edge of metro Detroit and it is amazing how many “hidden” entrepreneurs and startups there are in this small town!
What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?
To date, the most surprising thing about operating our space has been how few people seem to know about coworking. Educating people about what coworking is and the benefits is a daily task and we take joy in recognizing that moment of understanding as it comes across peoples’ faces.
What’s your favorite story about one of your members?
We have a member who had been running his business out of his house ever since moving to Michigan. It had been putting an incredible strain on his 30+ year marriage as he was not able to separate work life from home life. He didn’t need much space, mostly a place to send emails and make phone calls (and some coworkers to take a coffee break with!). After just a few months, he told us that the coworking space had potentially saved his marriage and that for the first time since moving he had been able to enjoy his new home and his new town.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to open a space?
While listening to constructive criticism is very important, I’ve found it is equally important to stand your ground and go after your vision. Throughout our build-out, everyone (I do mean everyone, from the mayor and city council to the old building owners, and my mother) had an opinion about all the things we were doing wrong and we heard about it multiple times a day. We are so grateful we stuck to our vision and built a space full of character and imperfections. So, my advice is to listen and genuinely thank everyone who tries to help you, but stick to your dream at the end of the day.