Women’s only social club blames COVID for closing all locations, but people aren’t buying it

While the woke grift may be alive and well, those engaged in the trade often succumb to the countervailing pressures of the cause du jour weighed against the demand to actually provide a good or service. In the case of one women’s social club, after struggling against allegations of racism and the resignation of a CEO, the untenable balance led to an abrupt and reportedly immediate shutdown notice Tuesday.

Founded in 2016, The Wing opened a flagship location in Manhattan’s Flatiron district as a women’s-only social club and co-working space before expanding to have 11 locations across the country in cities that included San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. Their agenda to provide exclusive spaces and access to like-minded celebrities and entrepreneurs for hefty sums took an Icarus-like turn after a meteoric rise and abruptly shuttered their business via email to members sent out late Tuesday night, according to The New York Times.

Founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, The Wing’s statement read in part: “With the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and increasing global economic challenges, we have been unable to recover and grow from the level of active memberships and event activity necessary to run a financially stable operation.”

At its height, The Wing reportedly had 12,000 members with 9,000 on the wait list and membership in the originally women’s-only spaces cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000 a year and did not cover the costs of available goods such as grain bowls, gluten-free cookies and pressed juice. That exclusive agenda was trounced in 2018 when a man named James Pietrangelo sued The Wing for $12 million for “illegal discrimination against men.”

They swiftly changed their policy and claimed to Insider that it was part of their effort to be inclusive to transgender and non-binary members.

Current members frustrated by the sudden announcement decried the move including TikToker Hannah Eddins who posted a video Wednesday explaining, “I’ve been a member for about six months, since January, and all of a sudden last night at about 8:30 at night we all got an email saying it was shut down immediately–indefinitely.”

@hannah_eddins #greenscreen i know someone has the answers I need them #nyctok #nycthewing #thewingclosing #closingthewing #thewingcoworkingspace #coworkingspacenyc ♬ Aesthetic Girl – Yusei

“This is the email we received blaming it on COVID, but it has entirely opened up and in January, when I restarted my membership, they were talking about all the new things they were doing post-COVID and that they were still doing really well and there’s a lot of speculation that it has absolutely nothing to do with COVID,” she continued.

Eddins went on to express that many had spaces reserved and already paid for and were expecting a full refund. However, given The Wing’s track record in fulfilling payment promises, that may be an unlikely scenario.

In addition to the hefty membership fees, The Wing raised considerable sums from investors including a reported $28 million in 2017 from WeWork. By the end of 2019, they reported having raised more than $100 million from investors like activist soccer star Megan Rapinoe and an assortment of venture capitalists.

Despite those cash reserves, they laid off over 300 employees in 2020 and promised a $500 stipend, but employees reported not getting the funds that they were required to apply for ahead of The Wing promising to contribute $200,000 to Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd.

“How do you have 200k for orgs when you still haven’t paid numerous employees that applied for the employee relief fund? Particularly Black & brown space staff who were making $16.50,” one commenter reportedly asked on Instagram.

The International Workplace Group (IWG) had bought a majority stake in The Wing in February 2021, almost a year after Gelman had resigned but maintained her own 10 percent stake in the company when faced with criticism. IWG declined to inform the current level of membership in the social club that had held exclusive events with the likes of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Gelman also declined to comment and Kassan did not respond to the Times’s request for comment. Meanwhile, many were surprised to learn that The Wing was still operating and were more interested in what would happy to the swanky furniture at the myriad locations closing.


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