Before even opening its doors, members club Groundfloor already has a 2,600-person waitlist for its newest location — Echo Park in Los Angeles.
“There is inherent desire around feeling of isolation and loneliness and folks are looking all the time to meet that need,” said cofounder and chief executive officer Jamie Snedden of the inspiration behind the concept.
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He, along with partners Jermaine Ijieh and Leutrim Rexhepi, have set out to create a different kind of club. Started in the Bay Area — first opening in San Francisco, followed by Oakland and San Rafael — Groundfloor looks to solve a growing social isolation problem, worsened by the pandemic, explained Snedden, by making it easier for adults to build genuine, face-to-face relationships.
“We’re quite different from your traditional social club in the U.K. or anywhere else in that we have a really sort of grassroots member-led structure,” said Snedden, who’s originally from England and is living in the Bay Area. “Our members are very much empowered to start and grow their own clubs and communities within Groundfloor — everything from cooking club to sailing and running, arts, music and everything in between — and grow those communities around their existing passions.”
They’ve turned to L.A. for their fourth location, settling on the east side’s Echo Park. Located at 160 Glendale Boulevard, the 10,000-square-foot space — which is housed in a 1930s-era bank — will open in late January.
“We wanted to go somewhere that had a relationship with San Francisco,” Snedden said of L.A. They’ve been growing strategically, heading where there’s a link to their existing community. “I would say 10, 15 percent of folks on the waitlist in Echo Park today have got some sort of relationship with the Bay Area, or more specifically a member in one of our other locations up here in the Bay. Folks are spreading the word organically about what we’re doing.”
They offer a work space, gym and social club for $200 a month, with access to daily events. There’s a lounge, communal areas with desks and sections for private meetings, office phone booths for calls and a library, a quiet zone located in the bank’s vault. There’s also outdoor space and — as a perk — and coffee is on the house. Members are allowed three guests a day.
“We allow folks to pause at any time if they’re heading out of town,” Snedden added. “Combining a sort of coworking style membership with a gym membership with a great sort of social and community feel, and if you bundle those things together, then the price point is pretty compelling.”
While there are community managers in each location, everything operates as self-service done via their in-house app: “It’s a place for tech to empower these types of connections.”
Starting off with 100 founding members in Echo Park, they will cap membership at 1,000.
“There is this screening process, which is pretty unique to what we do, and all we’re trying to do is figure out if someone genuinely is looking to build community and find friendship or if they’re just looking for facilities,” Snedden said.
They aim to open 10 to 12 locations in the next year in the U.S. — which remains their focus ahead of any international plans.
“We expect to open more locations in L.A.,” Snedden added. “Our strategy is to operate small and neighborhood level locations with a certain density and in a single market so most folks should live within about 30 minutes from a location.”
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