Main Street Phoenix Project is closing down. It is a cooperative that many of us in the co-op movement were looking to as a model. MSPP emerged in the context of the disruption of COVID-19, with the goal of enabling small businesses to be more resilient. Rather than workers owning just their particular workplace, as in a typical worker co-op, they would own a holding company. This means that, if a particular business faced trouble, its workers could draw on the resources of a larger network to adapt.
Like many new co-ops in recent years, however, MSPP encountered challenges it couldn't overcome, and it is now in the process of shutting down. Failures are as important to understand as co-op successes.
This is a conversation with MSPP worker Cat Bryant, a manager at Griffin Coffee, and the co-op's founder, Jason Wiener, a lawyer whose firm advises many of the most creative new co-ops emerging today. They reveal how breakdowns in communication and limitations in capital access imperiled the business in practice.