A Room of One’s Own bookstore is considering transitioning their store into a co-op.
At a meeting Tuesday night, co-owner Sandi Torkildson and University of Wisconsin Cooperative Development Specialist, Courtney Berner discussed what transitioning into a co-op would mean for the bookstore and opened up discussion for people from the community.
Torkildson said since has owned the store for 47 years, she is looking into co-op as an option that would allow the store to remain open but would give her more free time.
Torkildson said this is just a preliminary meeting to help thosee who are interested in the co-op model to meet each other.
Transitioning from a traditional business model into a co-op is a viable option, Torkildson said. Though the bookstore business is not something people get involved in if they want to make a lot of profit since most of the money raised goes back into the store and buying new books, a co-op can help with inventory costs. Typically the investment in books is around $300,000 to $400,000, but this varies during different times of the year such as textbook or holiday seasons.
Berner specializes in starting co-ops from scratch and helping convert more traditional business models to co-ops.
“Co-ops are not oriented toward profit, co-ops exist to serve members,” Berner said.
Each type of co-op is different depending on the type of industry and the people who use the industry, Berner said.
Berner said the bookstore will most likely be a consumer ownership co-op — people who own it are consumers who buy the products of the industry, a worker ownership co-op.
To move forward with this transition there must be a willing seller and buyer and there needs to be a viable business, Berner said.
Torkildson said she is a willing seller and her workers are interested in pursuing a worker-owned co-op.
Torkildson said she does not have much of a retirement fund aside from what is on the shelf in the store. She wants to find ways of ensuring the business can exist in the community outside of an individual.