Matchbox Coffee Shop could soon be homeless

Matchbox.jpg
Photo courtesy Matchbox.
Owners hope to keep the business open, even if they lose the space.
Matchbox Coffee Shop in Northeast Minneapolis -- one of few worker-cooperative businesses left in the city -- could be losing its digs. The collectively run St. Martins Table closed in December, leaving few others like it besides Hard Times, Seward Cafe, and Matchbox.

The shop's landlord put the building up for sale about a month ago, and is still searching for a buyer. Matchbox's owners plan to keep the business open one way or another, but a new owner could squeeze the coffee shop out of 1306 2nd St. NE.

"Ideally, what we would love is for somebody to want to buy the space and keep us as renters and raise our rent," says Liz Draper, Matchbox co-owner. "We don't know why [the current landlord] is not doing that."

After 10 years in business, Draper learned the building was for sale when prospective buyers started showing up to tour the place, she says. "It was just kind of like this complete shock."

Matchboxdog.jpg
Photo courtesy Matchbox.
Michael Lander, owner of the building, explains that his company owns a few properties in the area, and are simply looking to consolidate in tough economic times. When he received inquiries from interested brokers late last year wondering if he'd be willing to sell the property, it seemed a good time to put it on the market.

Lander says he's likely to sell to an owner-occupied business, which would likely displace Matchbox.

"That property is really most likely to be occupied by an owner-occupant, versus someone who owns the building and rents to a business there," says Lander. "It's a challenging investment property."

Lander says Matchbox is on a month-to-month lease, so he has no commitment to them beyond 30 days.

"We believe in the area, we believe in the neighborhood," says Lander. "Everybody we think would benefit if an owner-occupant was involved in there as opposed to an investment owner."

matchboxboard.jpg
Photo courtesy Matchbox.
After discovering the building was for sale, Matchbox's owners first toyed with the idea of buying it, says Draper. After some consideration, they determined that probably wasn't realistic right now.

Draper and the other owners are still trying to figure out their next move. No matter what happens, she says, Matchbox won't be closing anytime soon.

"Maybe, with time, we will want to purchase a different space or move," she says. "We're definitely not going to stop what we're doing."

Have a fond memory of Matchbox? We'd love to hear it in the comments.


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8 comments
Caralis24
Caralis24

fireroasts for sale, only business

Ioesf
Ioesf

Adam Trott has a good point - but you could also go on the offensive and just leave this landlord and find another space before you are in the vulnerable position of eviction. Maybe this is an opportunity, and having the space suddenly be vacant would be some positive market feedback to the landlord's lack of committment to you.

Didn't the Hub move? Maybe they can offer some wisdom.

ne resident
ne resident

as much as it would suck if these places were gone you can't necessarily make Lander the bad guy here. he's just doing business.

Francis karenot
Francis karenot

cant it be a group purchase?......I'd love to be a part of it even if it is just a little piece!....you cant leave! we love you there! in that little matchbox of a space!

A Happy Customer
A Happy Customer

Some of the staff there makes perfect espresso. I can't remember which people do and which ones don't, but their rate of awesomeness is very high. Good luck, Matchbox! I'll visit you wherever you end up, if you keep doing it right.

cherokee NE
cherokee NE

I think the customers at the matchbox may disagree with lander . Matchbox has been a community coffee shop for years! Every time i visit i see a variety of northeasters hanging out, drinking coffee and chatting with each other. You can see the owners of many area businesses stopping in to grab a cup and some quick NE gossip. It would be a loss indeed, i am glad to hear they will relocate if need be. Maybe lander should stop in and see the close sense of community this little shop is part of.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

anonymous NE
anonymous NE

Strange. Michael Lander doesn't own a single business in NE, yet he thinks he knows what is best for local the neighborhood! It's so sad. The same building that the matchbox is in is also home a barbershop that has been in business for 60+ years. They might also be forced out. They have been staples in NE for years. Practically all of the thriving businesses and galleries in the area are in rented spaces, not owned; such as Behind Bars bike shop, the Anchor Fish and Chips, and Shuga Records. I would hate to see NE turn into another investor's playground. Don't "fix" it if it's not broken ie: NE.

Adam Trott
Adam Trott

About purchasing the building:I am curious about what the barriers are to purchasing the building. Perhaps there are other co-ops or co-op members in the area who would be interested in purchasing it co-operatively? It may be worth some co-operative cold calls to survey co-op demand of property before risking losing the location - be they food co-ops, producer co-ops, or other worker co-ops.And as far as capitalizing your business in purchasing property, which would be a great way to secure the business, I would absolutely encourage you to contact co-operative funds like Northcountry to get a sense of what they could do for you before counting yourself out of the running of purchasing part or all of the building.

In Co-operation,Adam TrottStaff Co-ordinator, Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operativesadam@valleyworker.org

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