What type of "business" are we?

This isn’t a push to re-open or anything like that, but in the governmental discussions of what businesses can open and which cannot, I was actually thinking through this and was wondering what some other people thought.
Technically - we almost match to a gym in some ways: We pay a membership fee to use equipment that a lot of people use. I realize the core reason is not for a workout, but I certainly get my exercise from some projects.
Once you put that aside though, it does get a lot fuzzier. We aren’t a retail establishment, rental either. I suppose an educational center?
Like I said at the beginning, this is just a conversation starter. I’m in no hurry for the shop to re-open as soon as possible, we need to be safe about it.

That’s the rub… we don’t fit any traditional business - commercial or industrial. This leaves the city in a quandary as to how to handle us for occupancy, compliance, and more.

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Personally, I think we’re most like a gym, and I’ve assumed we’d follow their guidelines for reopening. At least, for the purposes of the pandemic. Obviously not when the fire marshal comes around.



No, seriously. Educational/non profit/business. We are only similar to a gym in that we have memberships. But being that we are 24/7 and have no real paid “staff” it makes it really difficult to enforce social distancing and do necessary continual cleaning/disinfecting, so that is also an issue.


And we have fairly minimal, if any, supervision of shared equipment people put their hands on.

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Minimal supervision, we give people access to equipment they don’t have the money or space for at home, lots of people flow in and out during the day, tons of shared equipment, 24 hour access, there’s a lot of ways we’re similar to a gym.

I’m no expert but it seems the public health concern is similar, lots of people are in and out with lots of shared tools.

Yes, this is all true. But we are looking at it from two sides. What we actually are and what we actually do. For classification purposes we are an educational business, but we have to think like we are a gym without staff.


Gyms have employees. DMS is similar to a locked storage unit full of workout gear, and you pay a monthly fee for a key.

The official designation of our building, per the City of Carrollton, is listed on our Certificate of Occupancy that is posted in the front door window. It clearly states that our Occupancy is Business (B) and Storage (S-1). Our Property Use is Warehouse and Office. Please let the Board of Directors and the Lawyers decide how to interpret this document as they take the next step.

If a health official closed all gyms like in the current situation, do you really think they view whether or not they have employees as the determining factor for what they mean by a “gym?”
Do you think they call out gyms in relevant ordinances and orders based on employees, or the fact the workout gear is shared, has human contact with many different unrelated people, and has sanitisation concerns?

That just sounds creepy AF :joy:


I think makerspaces can serve another important purpose besides tools. This is just my opinion.

Many people do not have a place that they can gather with others. Some have great families, schools or churches but others do not. The makerspace model is all about getting together and making some good stuff together and the tools are a byproduct of that. People at makerspaces make lasting friendships and help each other. The gym model doesn’t really carry over to this. We are something different. I would say it it falls more under the church model in many ways albeit without religion.

From the paper "Making Community: The Wider Role of Makerspaces in Public Life " here are some findings.

The roles that makerspaces played in their communities fell into four broad themes: acting as social spaces; supporting wellbeing; serving the needs of the communities they are located in; and reaching out to excluded groups. While not exhaustive, these roles presented themselves in almost all of the spaces, manifested in a variety of ways.

A Social Space
Makerspaces are rarely just where fabrication could be carried out. Rather, they are hubs of community, where people come together to work together, learn from each other, or simply socialise. Some of the spaces we visited, such as the Men’s Shed, had dedicated communal areas, while others emphasised the value of socialising with others over the machinery itself. Many of the spaces included kitchen facilities and most included at least facilities to make hot drinks—facilities were seen as being just as integral to the space’s mission as any digital fabrication equipment.

Serving Local Needs
While the makerspaces were broadly similar in their equipment and ethos, we were struck by the subtler diversity in their activities and goals. Makerspaces very much served the communities in which they were located, responding to local needs and issues and tailoring their provision accordingly, much as the Fab Lab model was customised as it moved from a North American university to the Norwegian countryside [16].

Wellbeing and Empowerment
For most of the makerspaces, wellbeing was not an explicit goal, but nevertheless manifested itself in a number of ways. The idea of craft and other creative endeavours as an activity for wellbeing is not a new one or one that is exclusive to makerspaces [37]—as part of our study, we interviewed one disabled arts organisation who have spent the past 20 years working on long-term arts projects with profoundly disabled people.

Widening Access
Almost all of the makerspaces were engaged in some form of outreach, most commonly by running workshops with members of the public who might not normally engage with making. These sometimes included bringing external groups into the makerspace, but often involved taking equipment out of the makerspace, either to public events or to particular groups of users such as schools.

Full Paper Here: http://www.nick-taylor.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/taylor-chi16-making-community.pdf

How does DMS “voluntell” someone it’s their job to sanitize the tools after every user, or it’s their job to enforce social distancing? What Immediately enforceable policies are in place to protect members should social distancing be ignored?

Gyms have employees who have those duties and who can elect to not work and not get paid. Gyms have rules that employees can enforce (like kicking you out then and there for not cleaning up after yourself). Who is empowered under the Rules and bylaws to do that, besides people who go to DMS voluntarily? “Hey put your and your family’s health at risk for the good of the space.” Not a good look, IMO.

In terms of reopening, to me a place like DMS shouldn’t open until it’s considered safe to have a sit down meal in a restaurant.

Edit: sorry I strayed into reopening talk. @Team_Moderators feel free to move or delete. My family was having a heated discussion about reopening businesses and I had “topic creep.”