Shared commercial space a growing post-pandemic trend

Small businesses that share commercial space is a growing trend.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:13 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A post-pandemic trend sees more Rockford small businesses sharing commercial space, something that’s paying off in more ways than one.

Doctors, dentists, and lawyers have been coexisting for years, but it has not been a model that has caught on in great numbers for the rest of the small business community.

That’s starting to change. Three years after the onset of COVID-19, it’s a growing trend among entrepreneurs.

“It is incredibly convenient sharing a space with four other photographers,” said Carris Fischer, a photographer who’s part of the 815 Collective, five independent photography businesses that share space on North First Street in Rockford. “It helps with the month-to-month rent.”

It’s also more than that for Fischer.

“It’s really nice to have the support financially and emotionally,” she said. “Having people be there to support you month-to-month so that you can continue on in your business.”

And although each business is independent, the competition is friendly, if it even exists at all.

“We shoot similar things but very different things,” said Joanna Shilling, who’s also part of the 815 Collective. “We have different styles. We have our own niche set of photography that we do.”

Yoga practitioner Rachel Bagne was looking for like-minded business owners when she recruited a hairstylist, massage therapist, and esthetician to share the historic Emerson House.

“It ended up working out really well to be housed together so that we can refer one another to each of our individual specialties,” Bagne said.

Business owners say the growing trend of sharing space grew out of relationships created as they were forced to work remotely during the pandemic.

“And now that were able to get out and about again, just being able to share spaces together just really helps bring everyone together and bond over our businesses,” Katie White, owner of Katie Rose Photography, said.

In early 2020, co-working and shared commercial space made up around 5% of the market. According to real estate experts, that market share is expected to rise to more than 30% in the next seven years.