A much loved second hand bookstore has secured a new chapter in its life after a determined community succeeded in raising the money needed to buy, refurbish and re-launch the shop.
This gripping adventure started when local residents, with advice and guidance from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, registered as a co-operative and launched a community share issue to find the £20,000 needed to save the shop from closure.
For fourteen years, the bookstore in Clevedon, North Somerset - just 100 metres from the promenade - has been a popular destination for book lovers to browse in the Victorian seaside town. However, the retirement of its owner had threatened to close it.
Now, approaching 300 members have invested at least £10 to become ‘co-owners’ of Clevedon Community Bookshop Co-operative (CCBC), joining the growing ranks of those challenging the orthodoxy that the role of business is solely the relentless pursuit of profit.
Over recent weeks, the shop has felt the benefit of community co-operation with volunteers and members carrying out painting, decorating, carpentry and other tasks needed to ready the shop for its re-opening, which takes place between 12 (noon) and 4pm on 31 December 2011 - also the eve of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.
Angela Everitt, Secretary of CCBC, said: “We’ve have been overwhelmed by the support that we have received. Our aim was to attract a large number of investors who, as co-owners, will have a say in how the enterprise is run. More than 250 people invested from just £10 to raise a total of £7,500 which, coupled with loan money and grants, has enabled the community to save this store.
“Members and volunteers have worked hard to refurbish the store, new flooring has gone down and the final task will be to stock our great new bookcases. We hope that members and customers alike will join us on New Year’s Eve and, this also gives any last minute investors a chance to drop off their applications.”
The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business, is at the forefront of the resurgence of the co-operative business model and, has committed an additional £7.5m between 2012-14 to maintain and develop The Co-operative Enterprise Hub service.
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative Group’s Head of Community and Co-operative Investment, said: “This is another example of a determined community having a say in the running of a business or service important to them and illustrates how communities, by embracing the co-operative model, can support the economy for future generations and tackle some of the unprecedented challenges facing our society and the environment.
“The co-operative business model offers an alternative and robust approach to enterprise that is contributing to the rebuilding of a more balanced and stable economy.
“As the general public becomes increasingly concerned for environment, accountability and sustainability and, more and more people rediscover the benefits of self-help and mutual ownership, we will see co-operatives playing an increasing part in fostering the creation and growth of future enterprises.”
In addition to creating a sustainable social enterprise, CBBC plans to contribute to the cultural economy of Clevedon - which boasts literary connections including; Thackeray, Coleridge, Tennyson and Sir John Betjeman.
Plans are in place to plough profits back into the community by working with local schools – to share the joy of reading with the next generation and, holding regular events such as: author readings and new book launches, poetry sessions, creative writing groups and, book repair and renovation workshops.
The closing date for the community share is 31 December 2011. For more information go to www.clevedoncommunitybookshop.coop or call 0117 230 6327
For further information about the free advice, support and guidance available to help communities to create and grow sustainable co-operative enterprises, contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub at www.co-operative.coop/enterprisehub
The Co-operative Enterprise Hub offers free advice, training and consultancy to new and existing co-operatives – supporting the creation and growth of sustainable member-owned enterprises across the UK. It represents a significant investment in the co-operative sector by The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business. Available nationally, the service is delivered locally by a network of co-operative development specialists. Further information is available at www.co-operative.coop/enterprisehub
About The Co-operative Group: The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over six million consumers. It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank, Britannia and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas. The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 106,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn. Further information is available at www.co-operative.coop
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