Businesses in The Woodlands operating without offices, storefronts on the rise

Glamp Woodlands is one of several local businesses operating without a storefront in The Woodlands area. (Courtesy Glamp Woodlands)
Glamp Woodlands is one of several local businesses operating without a storefront in The Woodlands area. (Courtesy Glamp Woodlands)

Glamp Woodlands is one of several local businesses operating without a storefront in The Woodlands area. (Courtesy Glamp Woodlands)

Image description
Image description
More small businesses and startups in The Woodlands area are opting to operate without physical offices and storefronts, according to local business leaders. J.J. Hollie, president of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has 1,200 members and has seen member growth, welcoming roughly 340 new businesses in the most recent fiscal year.

Hollie said the chamber has also seen an uptick in members that operate as an at-home business or who work remotely.

According to the most recent economic data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the self-employed population in Montgomery County increased by about 26% from 2014 to 2019. The number of employed workers in Montgomery County who work from home increased by roughly 68% from 2014 to 2019.

“[Some] people are leaving companies because they want to branch out and work on their own. ... These are businesses that wouldn’t necessarily need an office or a storefront,” Hollie said.

New chamber members opted to start their own businesses for a variety of reasons. Hollie said many new business owners looked to escape lengthy commutes or were uncomfortable with COVID-19 and COVID-19-related corporate policies in the workplace.“One thing that we’ve seen is businesses that cater to the remote worker or a nontraditional brick-and-mortar business. We’ve seen an uptick [in those businesses] as well,” Hollie said. “Businesses like IT companies, remodeling, restoration companies. We’ve seen more activity in that space too. So, it’s really kind of an interesting dynamic ... [COVID-19 has] sort of forced the business community to make changes faster than they normally would have.”


Erin Hayes in April opened Glamp Woodlands, a luxury tent rental business that provides canvas bell tents for birthday parties, bridal showers and celebrations. Hayes started Glamp Woodlands after leaving a 15-year career in retail. She said she was drawn to open an online-based business for the flexibility. “Anytime you’re operating in a brick-and-mortar location, you’re kind of tied down to when your store is open,” Hayes said. “If you’re opening an online-based business, some people choose to have 24/7 customer support. [Customers] can shop online whenever [they want].”

Hayes said there are a variety of benefits available for business owners when operating without the obligations of a commercial real estate lease, such as lower startup and operating costs as well as flexible operating hours.

“It’s easier to function out of your own home or in an online presence,” Hayes said. “Flexibility and being able to work from anywhere is a fantastic benefit to have right now.”
By Ally Bolender

Reporter, The Woodlands

Ally joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Texas State University. Ally covers education, local government, transportation, business, and real estate development in The Woodlands. Prior to CI, Ally served as news content manager of KTSW FM-89.9 in San Marcos, Texas.