A few months ago, in Casterton, a small township in western Victoria, a room of 100 people gave a local community co-op the go-ahead to waylay a possible decline of rural businesses and services by reinstating the local hardware store. This business, Peden’s, closed in December 2009, forcing locals to travel almost an hour to another big centre for building supplies.
There was a natural fear that even more business than building and hardware supplies would be taken out of the town, so farmers, a trucking company owner, an engineer, shopkeepers, builders and the local dentist, formed a steering committee to establish Casterton Community Co-op Limited.
The steering committee chairman, Clyde Lawrence, said only 400 people needed to buy $1000 worth of shares for the co-operative to reach its projected target of $400,000 to start the hardware business.
Speakers at the public meeting were:
The meeting was adjourned to allow the audience to apply for membership of the proposed co-operative and Casterton is now fighting back with plans to open its own hardware co-operative.
The feeling was that Casterton was a vibrant place and the community couldn’t
‘just let something like losing the hardware store start a trend that could really hurt trade’.
A co-op would give control of the community back to people living there, and help keep the town running, instead of shrinking. It was up to everyone to pitch in and help keep small towns viable.
“It won’t work if everyone sits back and thinks someone else will do it; that’s not how groups like Bendigo Bank became such a success,” said one board member.
$80,000 was pledged in four weeks and the tally in June had reached $100,000.
The co-op secretary says
“We have been registered for a short time, just two months and in this time 100,000 shares have been taken up, which is a quarter of the amount that we need to sell before the doors open..
Share sales are constantly rising and people are now aware of the office at 79 Henty St on Monday afternoons. Share certificates will be in the mail this week..
Members of the board have been manning an information stall in the main street on Saturday’s for the last few weeks, which has been a good opportunity for the community to have any questions answered and we will continue to do this.
We will also be available to answer questions during the Kelpie weekend; wait till you see our float…
Names and contacts can be obtained from the office on Mondays or by phoning 5579 8589.”
NB The Kelpie breed originated at Warrock Homestead, Casterton, and a local group decided to use a Kelpie auction as a promotional theme.
Starting in 1997 the event ‘exploited’ conventional methods of dog sales and some breeders complained it would ruin their usual business.
But the idea grew and people recognised the auction as a ‘try before you buy’ method of sales.
Now the auction is part of an annual Casterton festival, The Pedigree Working Dog Australian Kelpie Muster and Festival held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
Good luck with your co-op Casterton.