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Making space: Vector Space adding room for more workshops, classes
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Making space: Vector Space adding room for more workshops, classes

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A downtown business is moving up — literally.

After years of dreaming and six months of fundraising and renovation work, Vector Space will be able to use its upstairs space at its location at 402 5th Street.

The “make your own” space offers classes and workshops to its 40 paying members and the public. The business owned by husband-and-wife duo Adam and Elise Spontarelli opened almost two years ago in Lynchburg.

“We always knew this was an option,” Elise Spontarelli said. “We just figured it was a matter of time, but didn’t know how soon we would need to use the space.”

Vector Space allows people to work on their own maker projects involving computers, laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools. It also holds introductory classes on topics such as how to use a sewing machine.

The cost to move into the 4,000-square-foot upstairs totals $40,000. Spontarelli’s landlord put in $20,000 to install ceiling insulation and set up heating, venting and air conditioning; Vector Space came up with the other half.

Vector Space was renting the entire space in the old brick building at the corner of 5th and Church streets but did not have a certificate of occupancy to use it.

Elise Spontarelli said the goal to raise the last $3,000 was set for the end of the year but, surprisingly, it was almost all raised on Giving Tuesday in November. Giving Tuesday, which follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is a promotional campaign that various groups use to encourage donations.

The Spontarellis and Vector Space’s members have done all of their portion of the work themselves, which includes fixing the stairs, sanding and polishing the floors, replacing floorboards, painting, renovating the bathroom, creating an emergency exit and installing a new ceiling.

Elise Spontarelli hopes Old Dominion Job Corps Center will help with the electrical work as they have done in the past in Vector Space’s downstairs area and hopes a group like the Girl Scouts will help with painting. Old Dominion Job Corps Center is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Sponterallis hope to officially open the new space for workshops, computer labs and other classes in January.

Jordan Goulder, a Lynchburg resident and Vector Space member, said he enjoys teaching classes at the space and the new upstairs will allow him to teach in a dedicated classroom with easier set-up and fewer distractions.

“This will mean we can have more classes and reach more people,” he said. “I am very excited about all the fun skills and topics we can help people in the community learn about.”

The upstairs space will be a quieter and cleaner space, as opposed to downstairs where many of the larger and louder tools are used.

“It’s getting tight downstairs,” Elise Spontarelli said. “Big projects take up a lot of space.”

The Spontarellis said expanding came at the right time for them. Their plan always was to start small and then grow as needed.

“People know about us now. We have done a lot of work in the past two years in letting people know what this is,” Elise Spontarelli said. “It’s catching on. This is a new concept for Lynchburg.”

Spontarelli has said in the past she thinks everyone should know how to fix household items for themselves. The space allows for that teaching and development.

Adam Spontarelli said the renovations and expansion are exciting, and now it feels like they are getting serious about their business.

“It’s not just a garage full of tools anymore,” he said. “It’s professional-feeling space with specific tools and well-organized spaces. We’re finally reaching the point of having tools people don’t have at home.”

One example of such tools is a 130-watt laser that can cut and engrave wood or plastic, which Spontarelli said would be hard to access anywhere else.

“Being able to expand and have more room for things like that…this is making that possible,” he said.

Elise Spontarelli said she has enjoyed seeing a growth in a community of people who “believe in” the space and the idea of the business.

“It’s been positive to see people committed to it and watch it grow,” she said.

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