Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cooperative Bookstores of the Future

From Sheppard's Confidential

Good news to start the year! On 31 December, Clevedon Community Bookshop, a general second-hand bookshop, opened its doors. Located in Copse Road, Clevedon, in North Somerset, this new co-operative bookshop has taken over the premises from which Clevedon Books traded. The previous owners, Wendy and George Douthwaite, are continuing to trade on the Internet.
  When, early in 2011, they indicated plans to close, a group of people through Clevedon Society of Friends (Quakers) and Transition Clevedon got together to consider ways in which the shop might be saved. Angela Everitt, formerly of ReadingLasses in Wigtown, who had recently moved to Clevedon, knew of the difficulties in developing a sustainable profit-making business and looked for ways to run the Bookshop as a 'not-for-profit' social enterprise.
  Researches revealed that, in the UK, over 150 village shops are run as community co-operatives owned by the people of the village. Contact was made with The Plunkett Foundation which supports such shops, and through the Co-operative Business Hub, the Clevedon group was offered support from the Co-operative Development Agency in Bristol to establish the organisational structure, to register the Community Co-operative with the Financial Services Authority, to develop the business plan and to design the system for funding the start-up costs of the Bookshop.
  In September last year a Public Meeting was held to launch a fund raising campaign. On the night 1650 shares were sold. After wide publicity in the Guardian, The Times, the Independent 'i', through most local papers through the Press Association, and even on the Saturday Radio 4 one o'clock news, the membership of the co-operative has soared to 600 from all over the UK and even as far away as Hong Kong and Japan. £13,000 has been received in share income to fund the setting-up costs; £8,500 has been contributed in interest-free loans; a grant of £1,500 was secured from Co-operatives UK. In addition, local businesses, solicitors, removal firms, the DIY shop, and Co-operative members gave a considerable amount of help to renovate and refurbish the premises. Read more

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