Startups

Coworking network Beauty Shoppe filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

After 10 years, the hub for Pittsburgh entrepreneurship will close. It's the latest loss for a community reckoning with the pandemic's lingering effects.

Inside The Beauty Shoppe.

(Photo courtesy of Studio Lithe)

The future of the office remains unclear for Pittsburgh.

Local coworking network Beauty Shoppe filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in mid-December, according to reporting from the Pittsburgh Business Times. The company operated Pittsburgh locations in East Liberty, Downtown, the South Side and Lawrenceville, as well as some locations in Ohio, throughout its operational history. Court documents for the bankruptcy filing by TBS Inc. — the official name of the company — revealed that it had accrued $2.7 million in debt claims, which it would fulfill through liquidation of its assets.

The closure of Beauty Shoppe comes as little surprise to those aware of its financial struggles earlier in the pandemic. In February 2021, the company’s CEO Matthew Ciccone told Technical.ly that 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the business.

“For about the first three months of the pandemic, we were essentially 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 the lockdowns that followed meant that light never came. While Beauty Shoppe saw a rapid rate of expansion in the years just before the pandemic — a 2019 story from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review noted a membership count of 500, with a growth rate of 150% in 2018 — it quickly saw a downturn that forced it to close two of its Pittsburgh locations over the past couple of years. Furthermore, Beauty Shoppe opened its largest location yet right before the pandemic, adding even more financial challenges when the first lockdown hit.

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On Twitter, tech community leaders bemoaned the loss of Beauty Shoppe, which had become a local symbol for the kind of flexible work space a lot of early innovators and entrepreneurs need. Josh Lucas, founder or now defunct coworking space and tech entrepreneurship organization Work Hard Pittsburgh, which itself shut down in December due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic, tweeted that Beauty Shoppe’s closure “feels like the full cost of COVID has yet to be reckoned.”

His comments, and the circumstances of both Beauty Shoppe’s and Work Hard’s shutdowns, hint at some potential permanent scarring for Pittsburgh tech. Though locally based companies saw major public offerings and some impressive funding rounds over the last year, the loss of community-centric organizations such as these could risk closing off paths to the benefits of the tech industry for everyone.


Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-
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