The newly rebranded We Company (formerly known as WeWork) is the biggest private office tenant in Manhattan. But those spaces are primarily for members only, who pay up to $750 per month for a permanent desk at one of the 59 WeWorks across the city. Globally, the company has some 400,000 members at 400 locations.
But this week, We Company opened a new kind of space in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood–one that’s entirely open to the public. It’s a retail store-cum-cafe-cum-coworking space, where you can buy products made by WeWork member companies, grab a bite to eat, and reserve a desk or a conference room by the minute.
The space, called Made by We, looks like a cross between a hip college library, a coffee shop, and a cutesy gift store: One entire wall is dedicated to showing off member companies’ products, which include laptop cases, reusable water bottles, and handmade cards. It’s similar to the four small stores We Company operates within some of its office spaces that also sell member companies’ products, but this is the first one that’s open to the public.
Made by We’s 96 desks are rentable for at least 30 minutes, starting at $6, which you can reserve online. After your 30 minutes are up, they cost $.20 a minute. You can also book an entire day, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for $65. That’s definitely more expensive than parking yourself at a Starbucks and buying a tea so you can use the Wi-Fi, though you won’t have to pray for a power outlet near your seat.
You can also book a conference room for groups of four to 10 people, with prices ranging from $50 an hour to $125 an hour.
The space functions as a place to try out We Company’s main product–its coworking memberships–and reinforce the company’s brand as a hub for creative entrepreneurship by selling member products, like pencil and laptop cases by the brand Dynomighty. This combo makes Made by We similar in ethos to other recent retail concepts like Casper’s The Dreamery, where you can test out the startup’s famed mattress while taking a 40-minute nap. Given We Company’s prevalence in New York City, Made by We could easily be scaled up and implemented across the company’s other ground-floor commercial spaces–if it’s successful.
Will people be willing to pay to sit in a what’s essentially a branded cafe, with some merchandise? In New York, where there’s a coffee shop on every corner, maybe not. But the new space marks a tangible, consumer-facing revenue opportunity for the company, which might help it live up to its $47 billion valuation.