The only second-hand bookstore in town is poised to start a new chapter in its life after a determined community set up a co-operative in a bid to save it 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, retirement has threatened to close it.
Members of Clevedon Community Bookshop Co-operative (CCBC) have joined the ranks of those challenging the orthodoxy that the role of business is the relentless pursuit of profit and, with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, launched a community share issue to find the £20,000 needed to renovate, refurbish and re-launch the much loved store.
Keen to contribute to the cultural economy of Clevedon - which boasts literary connections including; Thackeray, Coleridge, Tennyson and Sir John Betjeman - more than 150 people have now invested at least £10 to purchase over 3,500 shares and become members of this newly formed co-operative.
Angela Everitt, Secretary of CCBC, said: “We’ve had an incredible amount of interest and support so far and our members and volunteers have now begun refurbishing the store.
“We think it’s important for the character of small independent shops to be preserved and, with membership priced from just £10, we are trying to attract a large number of investors who, as co-owners, will have a say in how the enterprise is run - we even think shares may make a ‘novel’ Christmas present for book lovers!”
Aiming to create a sustainable social enterprise, plans also include ploughing profits into working with local schools and, regular events such as: author readings and new book launches, poetry sessions, creative writing groups and, book repair and renovation workshops.
The community share issue coincides with the launch of a new report entitled “The New Pioneers” - an annual review of the work of The Co-operative Enterprise Hub* illustrating 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, environment and economy.
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 enable The Co-operative Enterprise Hub to continue supporting the creation and growth of sustainable member-owned enterprises across the UK.
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative Group’s Head of Community and Co-operative Investment, said: “The co-operative business model has been described as an old solution to a modern problem. Fundamentally, it gives people a voice, a say in how services are delivered and, it is a model that is being increasingly adopted.
“This is another example of a determined community having a say in the running of a business or services important to them. The co-operative business model offers an alternative approach to enterprise and, as more and more people rediscover the benefits of self-help and mutual ownership, it will play an increasing part in fostering future enterprise – contributing to the rebuilding of a more balanced and stable economy.”
For more information about backing the bookstore visit www.clevedoncommunitybookshop.coop
For further information about setting up a co-operative enterprise and the free support, advice and finance available can 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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