This week, our LexTalk newsletter landed in your mailbox. There are a lot of great words about our growth to Hertel, including an inspiring story from Tim, our General Manager:
I was on the phone with Co-op owner number two the other day talking with him about our Big Direction Capital Campaign. “I love the co-op,” he told me. “I’ve been coming in since the 1970s and I’ve never had a bad experience. Well, maybe one, but that was a long time ago. It’s going to be tough for me to participate, but I really want to do this. When I walk in, I feel like I own the place. You just don’t feel that everywhere.”
We are having so much fun with this Capital Campaign. We have talked to many owners who all echo the same sentiment – “I love the co-op!” The pride and joy that emanates from this business is powerful and tangible. It comes from owners and staff alike.
Capital is necessary for any business to grow and thrive. Many business owners tap into their personal savings to capitalize their business – sometimes at great peril to their personal finances and relationships. Others go public and offer stock on Wall Street, giving up the local control that made them different.
Co-ops are different; we are owned solely by the people who use the service we provide. So when we need capital to grow our co-op, it is the people who own it – the people who use it – who fund it. It is the third co-operative principal, and it is part of the economic self-determination that is a central value of co-operatives.
Personally, most of my savings are tied up in my retirement plan. Every day this money is used by the stock market to build a world that is exactly the opposite of the one I’m trying to create in the rest of my life. But investing in the stock market offers tax advantages, so I keep adding to my 401k. The Preferred Shares campaign gives me the opportunity to divert some of those monies and invest them locally in my co-op.
In 2013, one of my co-op heroes, Paul Hazen, speaking to the United Nations said “rugged individualism didn’t build America, co-operation did. And it’s needed now more than ever.”
This is a radical idea: that a community could come together and fund the business that serves them. But when we open our second store on Hertel, the entire community will be able to look at it and say “we built that”. How great is that?
Co-op owners who are NYS residents can invest in their co-op and grow the community business they own.