If I asked you what your favorite piece of mail received this week was, what would you say? Did you get a card from an old friend, a postcard from a relative abroad, an expenses check for that conference you attended for your job, or maybe just a newsletter from your local neighborhood organization? Well for me this week, it was my first issue of INSIDE OUTDOOR, a trade magazine for the outdoor gear industry.
So what does this mean? It means we are now officially in the merchandising phase of growing our cooperative. We are researching and selecting products to carry, we are looking for suppliers that match our mission and our values, and we are developing our online store using the Shopify platform as we speak. If you want to partake in any of that, then it’s time to become a member and get your feet into the action.
I sum up the value proposition of an organization such as ours as "the purpose of a consumers' cooperative association is to provide quality goods and services at the lowest cost to the consumer/owners rather than to sell goods and services at the highest price above cost that the consumer is willing to pay". This is different from our values statement which I think is still summed up in our statement of vision as “ To operate successfully as a retail cooperative community of human powered outdoor recreation enthusiasts, to promote outdoor lifestyles that encourage members to enjoy & appreciate the outdoors, and to serve as active stewards of our natural environment.“
This latest phase of our development was spurred on as we went through the process of obtaining for our securities exemption from the NYS Attorney Generals office, which will allow us to sell member shares to the public as a non-profit cooperative without having to go through all the hoops of all the rest of the securities registration requirements. We were able to obtain the exemption because we are incorporated as a non-profit cooperative, will only be selling to members in the state of New York, and will have shares that do not appreciate or depreciate in value. Now that we have passed this phase, we’re one step closer to revealing the grand opening of this venture.
I should note one other thing of interest, as I mentioned above, we are launching a Shopify store, we will not have a brick and mortar location to begin. The numbers just don’t add up for such an endeavor which is being developed on the side by volunteers, particularly when we are working with retail and the burdens of holding inventory. So we are diving into dropshipping as we grow our membership and supporters, and hopefully provide you with some really good deals that can compete with any other retailer out there on outdoor gear that you might be interested in, through an online platform, while supporting the local economy and local ownership. Now there’s a thought or two for how to compete with Amazon and other behemoth online retailers, I hope I’ve peaked your interest, as that full story and strategy will be part of a next blog post where I delve into the ideas of transforming local retail to compete while provided real benefits to consumers, and real levels of wages and assets to workers.
Check back here soon, or contact me directly with correspondence.
Frank Cetera, Vice-President and Co-Founder, Outdoor Adventure Cooperative, Inc.