Do you have a craft co-op in your area?


{This gorgeous print is available from Trish Brink Design on etsy}

Way back in an older post, I mentioned how my local MP had opened a crafting co-op supporting crafters in her electorate. Using her own funds to pay the rent, it was run by a band of volunteers. Commissions paid were insanely low and when Ms Lobarto was defeated in the last state election, the co-op disbanded as the commissions being collected did not cover the rent and expenses.

During the time it was operating, a formal co-op had not been formed. It had been discussed and the group decided all the formalities were way too costly and wouldn't benefit the group.
There are many formally run craft co-ops in existence which operate successfully. However, most are not legal co operations and rely on the support of their shire for rent free premises with the only expenses being utility bills.

Crafting co-ops are a wonderful way of supporting the local crafting community and a great alternative for selling your craft without setting up an online store or having to attend markets. Many are struggling for survival so be sure to pop in and support or local co-op next time you are passing.

So what is a cooperative?
It is a registered legal entity with at least 5 shareholders.  All members are expected to help run and govern the cooperative. It is member owned and controlled ~ not by investors.  In most cases co-op's are for the benefit of it's members generally in the way of a service and not so much for profit or return on investment.

Benefits:
  • it's cheaper to register than a company
  • all shareholders have one vote regardless of title,  involvement or how much investment they put in.
  • commissions taken from sold goods vary from 10% - 30%, so it is a great way to sell your craft.
  • they often receive the support of the local community or if funds are raised, they are often distributed to local charities.
  • The Tarwin Lower craft co-op started as a way for ladies to become socially active in a small coastal town.  They are a wonderful means of building new friendships and becoming active in your community.
Disadvantages:
  • a formal co-op must have a minimum of five members.
  • most usually run by a band of volunteers and it is often had to get enough people to cover rosters.
  • the high cost of rental premises means they need to rely on council shires to help.

3 comments:

Megsy-Jane said...

Sounds like a great idea! The only type of thing we have like that is an arts society which runs from it's own building in the park. It is a rather closed group however. The few true crafts people up here go to every market each weekend, which I imagine would be quite exhausting! So I suppose if you are lucky enough to find yourself in a larger group of like-minded individuals as co-op would be something to think on. Thanks for the post Jodie, I didn't know these sorts of things existed :-)

Tiff said...

I like the sound of a co-op. I came across quite a few living in England and they are amazing when you get people who work well together. I would really love to be a part of a group like that! X

trudi said...

In my area we have The Ferry Artists Gallery which is run by the community. It is not a co-op, but I think it is classified as a "not for profit" organisation. Members, and there at least 80 (including social and active), share roster duties. Active members are allowed to sell their work and the gallery takes a commission to cover associated business costs. It is 10 years young and doing very well.