Membership shares – please buy one!

Well the time has come to go public and ask for support in a tangible form. If you are coming along to one of the public meetings we’ll explain the membership share scheme in detail. If you can’t make it then here is a potted version.

To finance the Co-op we need a minimum of £25,000. This will cover the start-up costs, the costs of stocking the shop and our ongoing working capital requirement. We plan to raise this money by selling membership shares and by borrowings. If we borrow we need to pay interest and repay the loan. This is a significant cost. The more we raise from shares the less interest we pay and the more viable the business is. If we could raise all £25,000 from share sales we would pay no interest and save about £6,600 each year in interest and loan repayments. We have started thinking of costs in terms of books sales. £6,600 is about the profit we would earn from selling 1,500 books!

We are selling shares of £50 each. You can buy as many as you like up to a maximum of £2,500 worth. Of course we would like you to buy as many as you can! However many you buy you will have just one vote in meetings. The shares are ‘withdrawable’. This means they are not like the shares in a normal company. You cannot sell your shares and their value will not go up and down. If the shop makes a profit we can return it to members either as ‘divi’ based on the amount they purchase from the shop in a year (like the main Co-operative food shops do) or as interest on the amount they invest. This decision will be made each year at the Annual General Meeting. After 2 years you can apply to withdraw up to 25% of the amount you originally invested each year.

If you are thinking of investing then please read:

If you would like to invest then please fill in the application form.

Public Meetings

Things have been moving on apace. The work on the shop is nearly complete and we have started thinking about the shop layout. The next big event is for us to hold public meetings for anyone interested in the bookshop. We are holding these meetings to give folk  the chance to find out about the new shop, how you can become a member of the cooperative by buying a community share and the benefits of being a member.

The meetings will be held on the 23rd and 29th of February at 7.30pm in the shop at 2 St Ann’s Road, Malvern. You only need to come to one.Please do come along. Tell anyone you know who might be interested to come along too! Share a link to this post with your friends.

To launch the shop we need around £20,000 to cover shop fittings and the initial stock. Some of this has already been funded by the existing coop members, some we will borrow but we hope a significant amount will come from supporters investing in the project. At the meetings we will explain how this investment in membership will work.

In the meantime you can browse the wonderful examples of bookshops that have been featured in the Guardian this week. They provide us with inspiration and something to work towards. What is it about bookshops – I can’t imagine 200 people leaving comments about their favourite shoe shop.

You might also think about what you’d like to see us stock – leave a comment here with any ideas!

Thanks for all the comments and ideas!

Well what a week it’s been. After the coverage in the Malvern Gazette last week we’ve been swamped by comments and ideas. So the first thing to say is thank you. We will respond to everyone in time. If you haven’t heard from us yet please bear with us. There is clearly support for the plan; we just need to harness all the energy.

There have been a couple of comments raising concerns about the viability of the project. We are pretty happy that it is viable. Nobody is going to get rich from this and that isn’t the intention. In effect we are a not-for-profit. We think we have a robust and realistic business plan. It does rely to a degree on what Co-operatives UK call time capital – people working for low rewards to contribute to the success. However, as a Co-op, if we are lucky enough to generate a surplus we can distribute it to members!

We have a meeting tomorrow to discuss all this so expect an update soon….