What is a co-op?
There is no simple explanation of co-ops in general, as there are so many types. Typically they're worker owned and democratically run. Co-op members have a say in how the business is run. There are bicycle businesses that have co-op in their title yet pay their workers minimum wage and have a hierarchical structure. That's not really a co-operative by our standards!
OK, the nitty gritty. How do we run/roll? Every Tom, Dick and Harriet you see in our shop is an owner or a probationary member (one year of blood, sweat and tears and they're full members). Same pay, same say, equal rights, equal responsibilities. This freaks some folks out, especially coldcalling sales people asking for the owner.
How does stuff get done? Decisions made? Well, imagine a business as a camping trip. You and your mates set off for a weekend's canvas covered fun. In a traditional system the "boss" would be paid more than anyone else, have the only folding chair and have a minion to fetch the thermos of tea. He or she would then delegate as they think best the fire making and tent erection duties to lower status "workers". Now, we don't know how you organise your camping holidays but this system sucks.On our trip the group recognises that some people are very good at and enjoy setting fire to stuff while other folks enjoy the drama of tent erection. Why not organise a system that encourages, motivates and rewards? Fancy yourself a dab hand at the BBQ? Show us your skills and share them. That's kind of how it works, maybe.
Delusionally idealistic you say? Well, 27 years of this nonsensical naiveity and we're still having fun.We pay ourselves more than the average London bike mechanic, preferring wages to posted profit. Our philosophy dictates what we stock and how we sell it. Should you shop here rather than A.N.Other Bike Shop? Maybe! We specialise in some products that it's worth travelling to get, but if you live and work miles away and want an average bike or thingy we'd recommend getting it from your local independent bike shop so you can enjoy their after sales service.
So, don't ask for the boss: they're too expensive not very efficient, fun or neccessary, and we don't have one.
Do expect impartial advice. Don't expect normal. Do enjoy weird.
Here's just some of us from a recent shoot by dcmphoto.net. Lovely or what (rhetorical)? Click on a pic to get up close and personal; you know you want to.