New cooperative klaxon! 🚨

Congratulations to the newest cooperatively-run enterprise on the block! York Supplies was successful in its share offer, raising £250,000 from the local community to buy this much-loved local business from its retiring owners.

As you may know there are different types of coops. Loaf is a worker coop, meaning it is owned by the people who work here. York Supplies will be a community coop where anyone who wants to support its existence can become a member by buying a share in the business, and earning a dividend should it make a profit. While the workers there can of course also become members, they will be employed by the community coop, where each share is equal to one vote, regardless of how much was invested.

It’s exciting to see so many different models of ownership across our often-troubled high streets. One size rarely fits, after all.

York Supplies is becoming a co-op – and you can own a piece of it

York Supplies is one of the worst-kept best secrets of Kings Heath – an old-school hardware and gardening store where you can find anything you need, and if that’s one nail then you can just buy one nail. We’re big fans and were quite distraught when it was announced that Jon Jaffa, the owner and heart and soul of the business, was retiring and selling up.

Over the last year a group of customers, with support from Co-ops UK, put together a plan to save the business and, more importantly, maintain the community spirit of the business that Jon has nurtured over the decades. Here’s Barbara Nice to explain it.

If successful, the business will be reborn as a York Supplies Community Co-op. Anyone who invests at least £100 can become a member with voting rights, meaning the business will effectively be owned by the customers in the community. They need to raise £300,000 from shares which will then be matched by the Community Ownership Fund, giving Jon a fair price to retire on.

The share offer ends on 7 September. You can invest (and note this is an investment, not a donation) by filling in this form.

Interviewed for the Asahi Shimbu

Last week we had a visit from two reporters for the Asahi Shimbu, one of Japan’s leading newspapers, who are working on a feature about co-operatives. Apparently there’s a lot of interest in Japan about the co-op model and since the UK is the birthplace of the co-operative movement they’re visiting a number of businesses across the country.

It was great to spend a couple of hours getting into the nuts and bolts of how Loaf operates and how it differs from places we’ve worked before Loaf. To have someone question the things we take for granted – such as everyone getting paid the same rate and all decisions being made democratically – is healthy and we were able to confidently make our case.

We’re not sure when the article will appear – we were one of the first co-ops they’ve visited and they want to see some larger ones, like our supplier Suma, for contrast – but we’re looking forward to seeing what they made of us!

If you’re reading this as a member of a co-op and would like to be put in touch, let us know.

Left Feet Forward

Left Feet Forward is an exhibition at Artefact about cooperatives. It brings together archival printed material of the cooperative history of South Birmingham, particularly the Ten Acres and Stirchley Cooperative Society, and places it among Chris Neophytou’s photographs of recent grass-roots cooperatives that have developed in the area, Gugan Gill’s film exploring this history and legacy, and a play by Susan Finlay taking a wry look at cooperative organisation and politics.

There will also be a number of events discussing the role of cooperatives and a chance for local residents to explore their local history.

We had our group photo taken for this last week (in the rain!) and are very excited to see how it comes together. The launch is this Friday at 7:30pm — see you there!