The Island Employee Cooperative Buyout

In June of 2014 the employees of three rural Maine businesses formed the Island Employee Cooperative, Inc and bought out the workplaces from a couple planning on retiring who had run the stores for over 40 years. Around 42 of the 62 existing employees opted in to the cooperative and now cooperatively own and operate Burnt Cove Market - a 13,000 square foot grocery, V&S Variety - an ACE affiliated hardware store and pharmacy, and The Galley, a 8,000 square foot convenience store.

The purchase was made with the support and technical assistance of the Cooperative Development Institute and The Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative, and with financing from CEI and the Cooperative Fund of New England.

Micha Josephy and Daniel Wallace presented the buyout as a case study to the Opportunity Finance Network. They note that Deer Isle and Stonington, where the businesses are located, have less that 2,000 residents and close to 10% unemployment. The project timeline before the buyout was approximately a year. It also suggests that the lenders required 5-year technical assistance contracts for the new cooperative.

More information about the Island Employee Cooperative and the OFN case-study is available at American Worker Cooperative


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