Co-op news

Two Whales Coffee Shop is in the process of transitioning into a co-operative. Sue and David are wanting to retire from the business after 16 years of being at the helm and would like leave it in the safe hands of others. The co-op model is very compatible with our business values and ethics.

About Co-ops
Co-0ps are a way of organising and running a business—with the members in control of the enterprise. The very first co-op was set up in the UK in 1844 and the idea spread to Canada in the 1860’s and all around the world. Co-ops have a set of recognised values which serve as guidelines for all co-op organizations and their members. There are six main cooperative values:

  • Self-help
  • Self-responsibility
  • Democracy
  • Equality
  • Equity
  • Solidarity

There are seven standard principles for all co-operatives to follow. They help organizations flourish and operate successfully while encouraging all members to participate equally.

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member’s economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Co-operation among co-operatives
  • Concern for community

There are many different types of co-operatives around the world and they come in all shapes and sizes. In NL there are consumer co-ops, financial co-ops (eg. credit unions), housing co-ops, worker co-ops, fishing co-ops, health co-ops and many more.

Two Whales Convert Project
We are delighted to have a team of consultants from Flourish Community Development Co-op based in Nova Scotia working with us on this.

Two Whales is the first business to take part in the co-op convert project being undertaken by Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Co-ops (NLFC) and the Community Sector Council—the project being financed by the Northpine Foundation and the Canadian Worker Co-op Foundation. The project we are engaged with came out of a Canadian research project called Co-op Convert which finished in 2022. The project sought solutions to the issue of the imminent retirement of many business owners across Canada (48% in the next 5 years) and potential loss of important businesses to the communities they serve.

After the initial conversations back last October the project began in earnest in April, with our first four day in-person meetings with the Flourish consultants and NLFC at Two Whales in mid May. The various meetings with the Two Whales Board, staff and interested members of the community resulted in broad agreement on the way forward.

The Way Forward
It was very apparent that the community is very supportive of the Two Whales project and would like to see it continue and thrive as a cooperative. The community recognizes that the coffee shop is much more than a business that just sells coffee, cakes and paninis and that it is a social enterprise with clearly defined values expressed by its mission statement. The development of our young staff is seen as an important factor.

A leadership team has been set up comprising of two Two Whalers and two community members. They are the emerging core team to take on the organization and running of the coffee shop. The current cooperative model is a hybrid worker/community structure with participation from both inside and outside of Two Whales.

The Flourish team, Two Whales Board, NLFC meet regularly on Zoom to discuss progress. The community members will soon be joining this group. The consultants and other members of the team are refining the initial co-op model and financial projections.

Meanwhile the consultants are arranging further meetings with Two Whales staff and interested community members who were unable to meeting them in person in May.

Your Input
If you are interested in the project and maybe would like to be involved at the community level please contact us.

Updated: 22 June 2024