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.
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!
Several people who have contacted us have asked about the current members of the co-op. So here’s a brief outline of the 7 founder members!
Sarah has a passion for children’s literature, sport and art. She is a teacher with a great deal of experience in the independent sector within Malvern and, more recently, in primary schools.
Susan is a musician and music teacher. She originally trained as a librarian. She has lived in Malvern for over thirty years. Her main interests are gardening, local history and the arts.
Mary is a Biology teacher at Hereford 6th Form College. She is a closet potter with interests in Art and Music.
Helen has been a primary school teacher in Malvern for many years. She is interested in anything associated with tea and cake and develops her appetite through cycling and rowing. She also trained as a librarian
Dan is a lecturer in Accountancy at Birmingham University. He is interested in the relationship between the real world and the virtual world. He’s the main author of this blog.
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….
When we first got together with the aim of having a bookshop in Malvern one of the first things we decided was that the right business structure for the venture was a cooperative.
Cooperatives are very trendy right now. 2012 is the United Nations Year of Cooperatives. For us a cooperative made sense as it captured the spirit of the venture – a group with similar views and aims working towards a common goal. Being a coop isn’t easy! If you want to set up a company you can go online and buy an off the shelf company for £4.99! Forming a co-op is a bit more complicated. However we persitisted and are now registered as a co-op.
However being a co-op has great benefits. One of which is the legal structure that allows us to sign up members to the co-op. And this is where you come in. To finance the co-op one option is to take membership subscriptions or to offer shares in the co-op. The famous Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth (set up by Christopher Robin of Winnie the Pooh fame!) has been ‘saved’ from closure by a co-op in this way.
So here’s the question: if we sold membersips/shares would you be interested in investing a small (or large!) amount to ensure Malvern has a bookshop. If you would we would be very pleased to hear from you. Please fill in our contact form and we’ll be in touch with more details.
Well where to start? You may well have seen that Beacon Books in Malvern is closing in early 2012. There was an ‘official’ announcement in the Malvern Gazette this week. It is very sad. A town like Malvern needs a focal point for booky type things. Whatever your feelings about Beacon Books it had the potential to be that focal point.
The shop had been on the market for quite a while. In Early 2011 a group of Malvern booklovers came together and formed a cooperative – the Malvern Book Cooperative – with the aim of buying Beacon Books and continuing to run it; and to develop it. Sadly this plan failed. The cooperative didn’t give up. Alternative premises have been found – in what is currently the Central Gallery on St Ann’s Road. We are in the process of seeking funding from the Cooperative Development Fund to fit these out and to purchase stock. If all these plans come together we aim to open in February 2012.
Aren’t independent bookshops all going bust in the face of the online retailers, ebooks and the big chainstore bookshops? Is it the wrong time to open a bookshop? Well actually it isn’t. There is a small but highly successful group of innovative and exciting bookshops around the country. One of our favourites is Jaffe and Neale in Chipping Norton. What is true is that ‘traditional’ bookshops are failing. The new band of booksellers offer more than just shelves full of books for sale. They build on everything that makes books special. They provide a focus for reading. They do what an online seller never can by providing a place where books provide a focus for social interaction. They also sell coffee and cake!
This is our plan. As things move on we’ll use this blog to let everyone know. We’d love your ideas as well…