Changes Afoot!

employment store news

In the few years that Boline Apothecary has been a brick-and-mortar location, we have become a Clintonville and Columbus landmark. As Columbus' only herb store that is also an apothecary (we formulate and make herbal products ourselves) that does wholesale as well as retail, there is a lot of work that goes into making things happen. The shop has outgrown its current incarnation as a family-owned business.

We are looking to set down roots, expand, and do our current mission better. How can we accomplish all this in a sustainable way that meets our ethos of organic, ethical, pronounceable and effective? We seek to become a worker-owned cooperative. What is that? A worker cooperative is a cooperative that is owned and democratically governed by its worker-owners. These kinds of companies are actually more productive than their otherly-owned counterparts.

All worker cooperatives have two common characteristics: 1) member-owners invest in and own the business together, and share the enterprise’s profits, and 2) decision-making is democratic, with each member having one vote. Currently, there are over 300 worker-owned cooperatives in the U.S. operating in a diverse range of industries. While the majority are small businesses, with fewer than 50 workers, there are also notable larger enterprises, like Bob's Red Mill, Winco Foods, Kelly Moore Paints, and more.

Worker-owned cooperatives in the United States can be traced back to the early labor movement, when workers—especially artisans and craftsman—formed cooperatives while on strike or after a strike had failed. For example, after a 1794 strike in Baltimore, shoemakers self-organized a shoe production facility under worker ownership. In the 1880s, the Knights of Labor helped organize hundreds of worker cooperatives.
Worker-owned cooperatives play a critical role in building community wealth for several key reasons:

1. They create quality, empowering jobs for community members.
2. Since most workers are community residents, worker cooperatives are more likely than other businesses to employ sustainable business practices that do not harm the local environment, and profits are more likely to remain and circulate within the community.
3. As democratically run organizations, cooperatives help member-owners develop critical leadership skills and practice direct, grassroots decision-making.
4. They allow employees to accumulate wealth and build assets through having an ownership stake in the cooperative. It allows working people to have benefits like health insurance, mortgages, and a stable job- you know, the "American Dream"?

Currently, we are an LLC of one: Lily, the shop founder and herbalist, owns the business. She wants to expand that structure so that everyone in the shop is invested in its success, is having ongoing training in herbalism and other modalities, and is paid a living wage. 

If you are interested in becoming a worker owner and are qualified in small business, herbalism, or holistic modalities and want to create a shop that helps people, is innovative, and treats its workers with the respect that they deserve, maybe you should join us! We already have a few interested parties on board (including several of the current staff) and are looking for a few more. Worker owners would have areas of work that they would be doing in order to have the shop function and grow. This includes staffing, inventory management, customer service, web orders, social media, and more.

We will be financing the move to worker ownership (buying Lily out of X number of shares, up to 6 in total- so 7 total worker owners in the end) with non-profit small business lending, crowdsourcing, and personal contributions. Anyone interested would take on a part of that responsibility. Everyone will own an equal share with "one member, one vote" making major decisions. If you are interested in joining us, we will be screening candidates in the next couple weeks. We can send you more information in the meantime as well, just email Lily. (Please email, do not call the shop- we have documents to send you, so email is best.)

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