Wow! These are exciting times, at least for me. The holidays slowed us down a bit but once I got back on track things have been flying right along. We now have three lawyers busily dotting i’s and crossing t’s. I have wrestled the bureaucratic monster and I can say now officially we have a co-op. Imagine Point Arena has a member-owned credit union, a member-driven theater, a community library, and soon a member-owned store. I would say that this is a community that wants to take care of itself! And well!
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Coastal Organics Cooperative Inc.
Coastal Organics Cooperative Inc:
As I just mentioned, we have now incorporated our new co-op. Coastal Organics Cooperative Inc. will be owned by its members who will receive benefits from their ownership. We will be opening a storefront called Arena Organics Market and Café in the Oddfellows building at 185 Main Street in Point Arena. Co-ops are democratically run by their members and operate with the members’ interests in mind. Each member has a vote. Our goal is to provide healthy food, locally produced to the maximum extent possible, at the most reasonable price. Since the co-op is member owned, the goals will be alive, and always reflect the owners. Although members will receive benefits by shopping at the market, non-members will be welcome to shop at our store.
Co-op law has no limit to the number of members of the co-op, who are also shareholders and owners. While there are different legal forms a co-op may take, the only legal form appropriate for our small community limits the maximum share holding to $300.00. The current vision is to allow new members to pay a minimum of $50.00 annually, until they reach their full share value of $300, which will then be good for the lifetime of the coop. Because the coop is owned by the members and there is a need for financing, you are encouraged to buy your full membership ($300.00) as soon as you can..
We are now creating our membership documents and will be announcing our first membership drive soon.
Membership benefits, patronage refunds and dividends:
There are three ways a member will see a return on their investment in the business. Membership benefits will be decided at the first member meeting. They could include a discount on purchases, member specials, days of increased discount, and case purchase discounts. There are also a variety of ways to distribute surplus funds annually, determined by the members at member meetings. The primary purpose of our co-op is to benefit the members, and the members determine how best to do this: whether to grow further our business with any surplus funds, or to redistribute these funds to the membership.
While we are attempting to realize the market as quickly and cost effectively as possible, investor funds are urgently needed. This is an opportunity to create a truly local, community store: owned and democratically governed by the members of our community. The store will do far more than simply bring wholesome food to Point Arena: it will be the perfect place to expand community consciousness, to learn more about good food, and hundreds of other activities coming spontaneously from our members. Invest now to make this vision happen. Contact: Peter Loughran by responding to this email or you can call me at 707-882-3663.
In the co-op structure, members vote for the board of directors. The board oversees the business that the co-op is engaged in. When there are fundamental changes or large commitments involved, the membership can be asked to vote on an individual matter. In order to start a co-op, a board has to be created and those persons become the first members of the co-op. This is an interim board and once is the co-op has sufficient membership the first board of directors is voted in at the first member meeting. I am very honored to be working with some fantastic members of our community. Our interim board is:
Peter Loughran President
Laura Smith Vice President
Michael Duggan Secretary
Rose Mari CFO
Roger Dent Director
We are off and running. Now we need to get our store front put together so we can open and enjoy all of our member benefits. The floor layout and remodelling plans are to be submitted to the county later this week. We have electrical bids, and some equipment that needs to be purchased. Materials have been donated and several people have volunteered their time. There is painting, plumbing and so much more to do. I will be sending out this newsletter to keep all informed of our progress and any needs that we may be looking for. If you would like to contribute in any way please feel free to contact Peter Loughran at any time. You can respond to this email or call 707-882-3663.
On a Personal note, this has been an amazing ride that I have been on. The trials and tribulations have been numerous and incredible. The learning process of understanding how to establish a co-op and what it means to the business and the community has been fascinating. I want to thank the people of our community for being so incredibly supportive. Your interest in seeing this develop has encouraged me along every step of the way. As I said in the beginning, this is a community that wants to take care of itself. We are going to do that! Thank you for your support!
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