TechShop shuts down all US locations, declares bankruptcy

A bit of sad news for the maker community today: TechShop is shutting down nationwide.

Founded in 2006, TechShop is (or, I guess, was) pretty much heaven for the adventurous do-it-yourself’er. Imagine a big building filled with everything from sewing machines to laser cutters to woodworking equipment to welding rigs. Pay a membership fee, take a few classes to make sure you didn’t cut your fingers off or burn the building down, and bam: you had access to it all. Like the shirt above, the general philosophy was “Don’t try it at home — try it here!”

Membership was usually around $1,000 a year depending on when you bought in — it certainly wasn’t cheap, but it was cheaper than buying any one piece of the bigger equipment yourself. They also handled the maintenance, which, when it comes to many of these massive machines with their piles of proprietary parts, is a money pit in its own right.

TechShop CEO Dan Woods sent out a notice to members, which Makezine has in full. The short version: the business model wasn’t working, and they’ve been broke for a while.

The TechShop homepage (heads up: the page is now one big PDF), meanwhile, confirms the news. All locations are closed as of this morning, November 15th. Those looking for membership refunds are instructed to email the trustee handling the bankruptcy process, which seems… not fun.

It’s a bummer for all involved, and likely a rather massive shock for the artists, designers and entrepreneurs who considered it home base. In my many visits to TechShop (I’ve been a member for a few years now) I’ve met countless people who used the shop’s gear for everything from cranking out items for their online storefronts, to making shirts for their bands, to creating stencils for murals that stretch entire blocks in San Francisco. TechShop’s sudden shutdown will definitely leave a big hole to fill.