The people of Chapel Hill are invited to participate in the formation of the Chapel Hill Cooperative. The organization to be formed will enable its members to assume greater control of the business and commercial community of the Chapel Hill area. This consumer Cooperative will involve its members directly in the pricing, marketing, wholesale buying and other phases of the local businesses which become members of the Coop.
The Cooperative will have member elected officials and other interested volunteer members forming a board of directors and committees which will oversee the various concerns of the organization. A general congress will be composed of all the members and will meet on a regular basis to review and initiate the Coop’s basic work. A constitution and bylaws will be written.
Program: After paying an initiation fee ($5–$10), each member unit or household will receive a membership card which when shown at time of purchase will allow a percentage (10%–15%?) discount at member businesses. In return, the members will volunteer a few hours (1–5) of his time each month to one or more of the projects of the Coop. This may include working at the stores of business members.
The amount of discount given to consumer members by business member stores will be determined by a review process which will include the financial records of the businesses. This review will be conducted by store owners, management and a financial committee of the Coop. A full-time bookkeeper or accountant will be employed by the Coop to assist the financial committee. A bookkeeping service will be offered to the business member (mostly posting — annual tax returns, etc.) with business members paying for 50% of the service and the Coop the other 50%.
Other direct benefits to business members besides the possibility of volunteer labor and reduced bookkeeping costs will include assistance in determining community need for certain products and services, direct and open consumer feedback on the quality of service and products offered by business members, and a market of people who not only need the products offered but also support these businesses as they would if they were stockholders.
Benefits to individual, consumer members will include the opportunity to investigate local businesses to determine if fair prices are being charged and fair profits are being earned, the opportunity to participate in an experiment which will ultimately have an important “opening” effect on the town. And, if successful, the Coop will provide an organizational base for other projects — whatever the members want and are willing to work for, such as in the areas of politics, publishing, farming, transportation, housing.