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  • jerry woods


The future of retail may look like the Sherman Phoenix model out of Milwaukee, WI.

The Sherman Phoenix project repurposed a fire-damaged BMO Harris Bank building into high-quality spaces for 29 small businesses-of-color offering diverse foods, wellness services, and cultural activities. The building also includes vast open community spaces to curate art exhibits, film showings, and cultural events.

The Sherman Phoenix is a 20,000 sq ft incubator for entrepreneurship providing mentorship and coaching, and support to entrepreneurs of color to help them grow their businesses, generate jobs and support the local economy.

For developers, this may be what the future of commercial real estate looks like, repurposing old large retail spaces into smaller more manageable micro businesses.

All micro-businesses are small businesses. The only difference is a micro business is a subset of the small business community based on the number of employees within the company. A micro business if you employ less than six people. If you are a sole trader, self-employed, or have no employees, you operate a micro business. Spaces like the Sherman Phoenix offer businesses that could never afford or don’t need the full-size retail space of a typical 3000 sq ft space.

A micro business may face many challenges that other businesses, including larger small businesses, do not face most important is the lack of exposure. Typically they don’t have the same customer reach as larger companies. But by combining their reach with other micro-businesses in a structure like the Sherman Phoenix, they will be able to practice several business efficiencies including financial, labor, energy, and operational efficiencies by combining efforts through the facility.

For many developers, this may end up being a good solution for the looming problem of what to do with empty large retail facilities after we come out of the pandemic and get back to normal life.

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