Orca Books has been operating as a new and used bookstore in downtown Olympia for almost three decades. It is the largest bookstore in the downtown (Olympia actually has three locally owned bookstores within about 5 blocks of each other in the downtown core). Local bookstores are not the graveyards that they used to be just a few years ago. The public is reading physical books again and they are also shopping in bookstores. Sales in brick-and-motor bookstores has increased at a steady 5% clip over the last few years.
The owner, Linda B., seeks to retire and contacted us about converting the store to a cooperative last spring.
After some discussion, the staff recognized that the store would benefit from being a multi-stakeholder co-op: consumers, workers, and local businesses that support want to support the bookstore. The goal is to fund the transition through memberships and donations. With 2,000 memberships (at $100), the co-op will be able to retire commercial debt of the current owner and have the operating capital needed to improve inventory, marketing efforts, and sales.
Linda will continue to work as staff, but will also be able to avoid closing the store.
We made a short video about the project:
The store has received support from around the world as former residents of Olympia have heard about the transition.
The biggest hurdle facing this project right now is money. So this is also a plea to folks to help fund the conversion. They have a Go Fund Me