TechShop, the do-it-yourself haven in Menlo Park's industrial zone that, since opening in 2006, has expanded around the country, is facing eviction.
The membership-based company is looking for a new home on the Midpeninsula before its Oct. 31 involuntary departure date from 120 Independence Drive, according to a letter from the chief executive to TechShop members.
With no options available for a lease extension, the company is asking members for help in finding a new or temporary home. "All leads will be appreciated," founder and CEO Jim Newton says in the Aug. 16 letter.
"In spite of our best efforts, negotiations have failed to produce even a short term extension of our lease to early 2014," Mr. Newton says. The company is holding two weekend informational meetings at the site: at noon Saturday, Aug. 24, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.
A temporary shop would include "a reasonable subset of tools, equipment and programs," but would require four months to five months to design and outfit, he says. One alternative would be to close temporarily.
Given its status as the original TechShop from which the others evolved, it's an opportunity to rebuild "to build the very best TechShop location yet," Mr. Newton says. But he needs $2.5 million. Along with plans to expand membership and launch a crowd-funding campaign, the company will be seeking to raise the money by asking for $25,000 loans "from members and the local maker community," he says.
The term "maker" refers to people in the do-it-yourself (DIY) community who don't rely exclusively on mass-produced products, but make their own based on their own engineering, design and fabrication efforts. Hackers are close relatives.
The set of tools, machinery and expertise available in a TechShop might elicit in a would-be fabricator a rueful sense of time perhaps not spent as well as it could have been in learning to use this equipment. Not all shops are equally equipped and some may address activities not included in this list, but according to the TechShop website, the intention is to have instruction and equipment to allow activities associated with the use of metal, wood and plastic as well as electronics, 3D printing and laser cutting. There are sewing machines for arts and crafts projects, and equipment for automotive and motorcycle projects.
In addition to the flagship location in Menlo Park, the network of TechShop cities includes San Francisco; San Jose; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Detroit-Allen Park, Michigan; and Pittsburgh. The website notes plans to open TechShop facilities in Brooklyn, New York; Chandler, Arizona; and Washington, D.C.