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Introducing The MMM World Headquarters Building

I’ve been using this picture of a similar space at “Shift” coworking in Los Angeles for inspiration in designing my main room because the size and window/door layout are similar.

Almost exactly six years ago, I wrote a simple post about a pawn shop opening up in my town. It was during the very early days of this blog, and I figured it was an easy way to take some shots at that financially predatory industry. Also, the shop was called Mister Money, which had an ironic similarity to my own name, Mr. Money Mustache.

So anyway, in that post I joked that I was going to buy the building next door, and if anyone walked into my shop trying to borrow money, I’d PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE and tell them to embrace frugality and sensible living, rather than high-interest borrowing, as the solution to their financial problems. For some reason, this idea of the “Face Punch” really stuck with the early readers, and became a bit of a brand for MMM.

As sheer coincidence would have it, in early March 2017 a cryptic ad appeared in the local Craigslist.

Commercial building for sale, $230000

There was an address, but no pictures and no other information.

I recognized the address as being right next door to my pawn shop rival.  And we recognized the price as being about half of what a small single-family house or commercial building goes for around here these days. Mrs. Money Mustache was the one who first found the ad, so she called the number.

To make a long story short, the building was a severely run-down joint, but with extremely good potential. A dozen species of insects and animals called its rotting exterior woodwork their home and three dumpsters worth of demolition, debris and dead trees clogged the property*.

But at the core was a 2400 square foot brick and concrete structure, plus a detached 2-car garage, on an immense 7500 square foot lot, directly across the street from a recently-built $23 million building which happens to host one of the town’s best pubs.

The reason it was so cheap, aside from decades of neglect, is that it was owned by a charming man in his 70s who now lives hundreds of miles away. Once a prominent owner of significant chunks of Longmont, he was unloading this last forgotten scrap of real estate just to get it out of his hair. Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the recent boom in our property prices here, and he was definitely unfamiliar with modern property marketing techniques (he had relied on a friend to even get the ad onto Craigslist). The building had been in constant use by a series of retail tenants, but nobody had had much of an incentive to fix the place up.

I called him later that night with an all-cash offer, and after an hour of telling me amazing stories of his life, he accepted it.  A few weeks later, we closed on the property and then I spent the next few months in a full-bore restoration process – a multi-person vortex of flying sparks, brick, sawdust, beer, diesel, sweat, blood, and beer.

Figure 1: Replacing the Infinitely Shitty “doors” to the back yard and future patio, with a reasonably fancy unit I rescued from another builder via Craigslist. I also added some foam insulation and some repurposed siding – leftover materials and design ideas from last year’s backyard studio project. Just one of about 100 similar-scale improvements this building needed.

So Why Did We Buy a Building?

This somewhat wild scheme is the culmination of a few different values:

  • We wanted to get more involved with the local community, by owning a little piece of the Main Street and helping to make it a more joyful place. There’s nothing wrong with selling stuff and making money, but I’m also interested in teaching classes, hosting events and parties, and donating the space for use for non-profit events which are designed to help people. (See the bottom of this article to learn about the first one)
  • Mrs. MM and a good friend of hers both have booming Etsy shops that are ready to break out into the real world. They enjoy working together so much, that they decided owning a building together was the next logical step. So both women, and both of us husbands, teamed up together and split the building equally.
  • From a financial perspective, it would be hard to go wrong because we got the place for such a low price. The land alone is worth more than the $225k purchase price, and if the town continues its current downtown boom, this could increase drastically again over the next ten years. Since the structure includes 2-3 separately rentable spaces, the property could easily bring in $3000-$4000 per month of income (after renovations) if we chose to rent it out in the future. And there were no banks or borrowing involved, so the stress and closing costs were low, and flexibility is high.

But all those points are just the “pretend responsible adult” justifications. In real life, we bought this thing because it seems like a fun adventure.

As this blog has grown so unexpectedly over the years it has presented all sorts of opportunities. As prestigious as they sound, they really all boil down to either spending more time on airplanes, or more time or sitting at the computer, and always less time being here for my son. I don’t really need more fake lifestyle guru nonsense in my life – I want more great stuff going on right here in our own community.

So, as the headline suggests, I’m outfitting half of this building to become the MMM World Headquarters.

What Happens at MMM WHQ?

 

We found lots of cool ancient brick under the other coverings. Here’s a scene from when I was trying out the new drywall hoist to install the kitchen ceiling.

I’ve decided that my side of the building will become a coworking and hangout space for Longmont-area Mustachian Entrepreneurs. It will be membership-based, with only 50 memberships made available at a price of $50 per month. And for the price of membership, locals get:

  • 24/7 keycard access to a big, open room downtown (about 700 square feet) with couches, tables, benches, stylish design, etc. Plus an adjoining small kitchen area for our food.
  • access to 49 other accomplished entrepreneurial local friends, who can all be part of an active Slack Group.
  • WiFi over Gigabit fiber internet access
  • Free or cheap coffee and fitness-friendly snacks
  • Tool sharing library
  • A big outdoor patio courtyard area out back with grill, chairs, speakers, patio lanterns, etc.
  • Outdoor gym with barbells, squat rack, and bodyweight things like pull-up bars, etc.
  • Garage workshop with welding and metalworking equipment
  • Beer brewing setup with permanent kegerator – members with skill in craft brewing can rotate through to produce guest batches. Ideally, this will provide free beer at all times.
  • Bike fixing station, parts inventory and swapping, helping each other improve skills
  • Talks and classes – from members, and from visitors.
  • Group Advocacy for improving the town.
  • The chance to work together on this new building – learning through doing as we build new features. (I’ve already got all the equipment for a 3.6 kW solar energy system ready to install onto the garage roof when we’re ready)
  • And any other perks and cool ideas we can think of with our collective mind power.

Although $50 per month sounds awfully cheap for all of this, it should actually work out great – paying the taxes and utilities and easily pumping out a monthly surplus to use for continued improvements, tools, supplies, etc. I reserve the right to make a profit off of the place eventually, but obviously this is not my main motivation – otherwise I’d charge a more “normal” coworking membership rate or just stay home and crank out blog articles.

If you’re interested in joining, read this rough agreement then send me an email through the contact form with “Coworking” in the title. If you end up as a member, I will put you onto a shared Google Doc list and the slack group so we can all start talking. (Please include some biographical background to help me determine that you’re a real, friendly person!)

The primary members will generally live within biking distance since I don’t want anyone to sign up for a mandatory car commute. But if you want to become a patron or long distance member – contributing to the cause and working remotely with the core members (perhaps just to gain access to such a cool group, stop in whenever you are in the area and see your money put to use for interesting hactivism here in Longmont), send me a email with “Patron” – we could probably still keep a close-knit group with up to 10 such members.

Important: Although the building now hosts frequent meetups and other events, please do not just show up at random time unannounced as part of your cross-country roadtrip. Instead, just attend an event if the timing happens to align.

 I feel strange adding this note, but travelers have been stopping by almost every day and as much as I love Mustachians, giving tours to unexpected visitors make it difficult to get work done – which is the kind of the point of a coworking space during the day.

Also, the Northern entrance is “Mud and Madder”, the future handcrafted shop owned by Mrs. MM and a friend which is not part of my HQ.

Are you Ready?

Our First Guests

The space is almost ready and the first philanthropic event is already booked: I’m hosting my friend Alan Donegan’s UK-based Pop-Up Business School for their inaugural US event in early September and it’s for everyone – not just members!

You can sign up here:

http://www.popupbusinessschool.co.uk/longmont.html

This is a nine-day class on Mustachian-style entrepreneurship: how to start a business with minimal initial investment and a quick path to cashflow.

Members of the Longmont community** and the coworking space will get first dibs at the tickets, which are are actually worth about $500 each but offered for free due to a unique business model.

(huh?)

Pop-up business school is intended to help anyone – well-established or just scraping by – start a business. Because this is such a powerful way to improve lives and communities, as Pop-Up Business School’s repuation has grown, Alan and company have been able to attract outside funding. City councils, philanthropic foundations, and companies.

So I tried the same thing here for the US debut – inviting a few unusually cool companies that are run by people that understand our mission around here. Almost all of them said yes and chipped in a substantial chunk of money, directly to Pop-up business school. So in thanks I’d like to mention them here:

Betterment Investing – simple, efficient investing platform with behavioral-finance (aka making it fun and easy) at its core. My Betterment Article.

Bluehost Web Hosting – the original and still favorite recommendation for how to get a beautiful website up and running quickly. My related aricle – How to Start a Blog.

Treehouse Learning – a classy and fun way to learn stuff – specializing in software development and other skills – with a meaningful social mission of cutting the cost of higher education.

See you There!

This has been a big and really rewarding project so far. Although it was a big commitment and going out on a limb, the resulting months of hard work and connecting with so many nice people has been exactly what I want out of life – and what I wish for you in your life too.

Here’s hoping that this current project of mine, and your own big efforts in the coming year, continue to crank out lots of opportunities for fun and learning.

 

*on the positive side, there were a number of functional mannequins and assorted body parts for them in the garage, which I have obviously saved for future fun.

** Out-of-towners looking for frugal accommodation might want to check out the RV campground at Boulder County Fairgrounds, tent camping at Union Reservoir, or even just find a spot for a tent in the nearby National Forest foothills, given the beautiful time of year.

 

 

 

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 4, 2017, 5:45 am

    Congratulations on the property! I was so excited to see that you bought a new piece of property and is not so stressed out about cash flow and such.

    I love that you care so deeply about the community and take action to help others. I look forward to more updates on the project!

    Reply
  • Jeff August 4, 2017, 8:05 am

    What an inspiring project. It’s also similar to starting up an “incubator” business, but the business plan of giving only 50 members for $50/month seems like a great bargain for entrepreneurs that need resource and motivation from like-minded people.

    I last visited CO in 2006, but if I were to be in Longmont I’d love to check out MMM HQ.

    Reply
  • KMB August 4, 2017, 11:39 am

    How about adding a second story with some apartments? Or even better, short term rentals for visiting mustscians…

    Reply
  • Justin August 4, 2017, 3:05 pm

    We spent some time a few weeks ago in RMNP and on the way home decided to drive through Longmont. I wanted to see what it was like. We drove right by this place and I had no idea it was there. Great idea and hope I can visit in the future. Best of luck!

    Reply
  • Ritchie August 4, 2017, 6:51 pm

    Looking great, following with great interest from New Zealand

    Reply
  • CL August 5, 2017, 6:11 am

    I would absolutely adore this. For everyone moaning about $50 being un-Mustachian and MMM pointing out that it’s a good value, I paid $250/month to rent an office at a coworking space. The nearest coworking space charges a minimum of $750 a year for membership plus $100+ per month more to get a dedicated desk. MMM’s price is way below market (especially in the Longmont/Denver area). It’s a fraction of the price of other coworking places in his region, and I know because I toured coworking spaces there when I thought I’d move to Boulder.

    It’s a business expense for entrepreneurs. If you aren’t an entrepreneur and just a private individual, you’re right – $50 a month might seem steep. But if you are an entrepreneur, I find/found the benefits of rubbing elbows with local entrepreneurs to be valuable. If they’re Mustachians? Even better. It’s like finding a company with the perfect coworkers while working on projects that interest YOU and not some corporate boss up the ladder.

    I’m naturally introverted but have been self-employed for three years now. At first it’s amazing to be home alone – then you start to miss water cooler talk and seeing non-family/roommate human beings. It gets you out of the house so you can work relatively uninterrupted by family members. And frankly I’ve paid more than $50 per month just for decent Internet. I solved the “I guess I don’t want to be a hermit” problem by eating lunch out some days of the week (gasp! so anti-Mustachian!). You know what’s more Mustachian? Paying the cost of a few lunches to sit in a space surrounded by like-minded people who are working hard. I’m excited to see what happens and would buy a membership in a heartbeat if I lived in the area. I just checked the commute from where I’d live – it’s 30 minutes on a bus that comes once an hour, which isn’t terrible but probably not the best. I know that MMM intends for this to be very local for Longmont itself, but I’d still be one of those gawkers that are getting in the way – I’ll stop by the next time I’m in Denver, which might be next July. It’ll probably be good to have some kind of “random Mustachian swinging by” section. Good on ya, MMM.

    Reply
  • Brian C August 5, 2017, 10:37 pm

    Congrats on building a great space! I’d absolutely sign up if I lived near Longmont.

    Reply
  • Laurel August 6, 2017, 10:49 am

    So Amazing. I love seeing what your family does post FIRE to make the world a better place. Very inspirational.

    Reply
  • ZJ Thorne August 6, 2017, 1:39 pm

    Wow. This is going to be such an interesting and dynamic venue. It is sometimes amazing what skills and capital can accomplish for folks with vision.

    Reply
  • Aaron August 7, 2017, 6:17 am

    You’re the Donald of the PF world. :) Sounds like you are going to be doing a lot of good in your community. Bless ya!

    Reply
  • Bike Bubba August 7, 2017, 8:51 am

    Congratulations, and wish you well. One note regarding beautiful old brick; you probably already know this, but great steps to make your investment work well are “tuckpointing” and “sealing.”

    Reply
  • Andrew Mullen August 9, 2017, 10:19 am

    Wonderful! I would like to start something like this in Indiana.

    Reply
  • Jenny Hatch August 9, 2017, 10:40 am

    I have my ticket for the pop up business school, but was wondering how you were going to inform those chosen as the fifty entrepreneurs to participate in the MMM HQ?

    I am so excited to discover if I am one of those who will be blessed to share the space!

    I am less than six miles from HQ and praying that it all comes together perfectly.

    Hey, did you know your web site is being used in personal finance classes?

    My son who is studying finance at SUU in Cedar City, Utah told me that his professor was sharing the good news with his students.

    I was very happy to hear that.

    Thanks upfront.

    Jenny Hatch

    Reply
  • Steven August 10, 2017, 7:49 am

    I think it’s a great idea and love so much about the activities that will be available. With so many things going on and available do you plan to rely on the group/members to lead much of this, any fear that you will be running around with members requesting some MMM time, similar to the visitors showing up early? Does Longmont require a liquor license or how would that work, seems like that could get funny with the city, this coming from Chicago where its extremely difficult to distribute is why I ask. Either way best of luck, when I visit Mr. 1500 days, I hope to stop in.

    Reply
  • Katie August 10, 2017, 3:44 pm

    So extremely jealous!!!! I wish I wasn’t a couple states away, I would be a perfect member. I work from home and really could use an office as I have learned being mom and working from home is not the most productive. Dad works from home too, but the kids leave him alone just fine. But I don’t want to actually pay for an office…

    Maybe I should do this sometime with some friends here in the little old ID. ;)

    Reply
  • Cindi August 10, 2017, 6:14 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! It has been amazing to see you flourish throughout the years. We never know where life is going to take us BUT it sure is an enjoyable ride.

    Reply
  • Evan August 11, 2017, 1:26 pm

    Now this is the movement that’s gonna change the world!! Literally now everyone will be face punched wanting to know what is this new establishment of amazing locals is! I grew up in Longmont on the outskirts (now the inskirts?haha), but it has really changed, all for the better. I moved to Wheatridge 8 years ago, but lets just say if MMM HQ was in my circumference again i’d be there in a heart beat!

    Reply
  • Mina August 11, 2017, 4:57 pm

    Hi MMM,

    Have you looked at opening an account with Personal Capital to manage all of your finances? Is it useful and safe?! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Eric August 13, 2017, 10:43 am

    Hey MMM! Great idea! I searched through the comments and didn’t see an answer for this question, so forgive me if you’ve answered this elsewhere: As a professional and home brewer, I’m curious how you’re going about licensing your brewery. I know every state is different, but with all the different things you have going on in your facility, you may have licensing and insurance issues adding a Brew-On-Premise or Homebrew Club system to the mix. I’ll be following to see what you do, because I used to be involved in a shared workspace and the owner and I spoke about adding a small brewery to it for teaching and club use. We shelved the idea because of the possible regulatory minefield.

    Reply
  • Connor from AK August 14, 2017, 11:17 pm

    Hey! I suppose MMM won’t read this since it’s way late, but maybe he could look into mCHP for the cold months. Combined Efficiencies are creeping way up there. As a fellow building science geek I’ve been crunching numbers for my climate and they are very attractive especially due to avoiding grid losses.

    Reply
  • Travis August 15, 2017, 11:18 pm

    Pete, I didn’t put two and two together until I did some poking around in the office building I work at. Here in downtown Phoenix there is an entire floor of the office building dedicated to something like this. The lobby has just a few tables and a sofa, but groups of people are there throughout the day having 2-4 person meetings, 1 on 1 consults, or just by themselves getting some work done. Then I learned the floor above mine rents out conference rooms, desks, drafting tables, and has a kitchen and sofas. They target startups or other groups of people who need office space, but can’t afford an actual property of their own. I can’t wait to see how this project of yours unfolds.

    http://departmentphx.com/

    Reply
  • Liesbet August 24, 2017, 3:52 pm

    Awesome initiative! Congratulations on all the work and good luck with the new venture. You sure know how to remain interesting, committed and involved, MMM! Maybe we will see you in Boulder next month, when we are doing a one-month house and pet sit in Rollinsville! Unfortunately, it starts after the class… It certainly would be cool to connect. So many stories to share. :-)

    Reply
  • Pamela August 25, 2017, 11:37 am

    Another freaking awesome idea Pete!
    Congratulations!
    Let the face punching begin…

    Reply
  • Jamie December 6, 2017, 9:55 am

    Careful now – you’ll end up mayor before too long if you continue will all this public-do-goodery!

    Reply

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