It's not all Hummers and diesel here in the Bay Area. Some of us actually (gasp!) ride bikes... OK, some of us more than others. :)
While my wife rides her bike to work every day, I'm only an occasional bicyclist. But, now that I'm not based out of my home office and have a 2-mile commute, and
with gas fast becoming a high-priced luxury, my bicycle is an obvious choice for getting around.
Berkeley itself is pretty bicycle friendly (even if individual motorists are not), and how better to represent the area than with a bike shop that's also a cooperative
I went in on Sunday to The Missing Link
, anticipating picking up my bike from its yearly once-over -- the bike wasn't ready, but I was able to shoot a panorama. Enjoy!
The Missing Link began in 1971 when a group of former Berkeley High School students attending UC Berkeley formed three collectively run businesses on campus; a record store, an art supply store, and a bicycle shop.
The Missing Link incorporated in September 1973 as a non-profit mutual benefit corporation located in the basement of the Student Union building. In 1978 the Missing Link moved off campus to it's present location at 1988 Shattuck Ave.
In July 1994, we became a California cooperative corporation, but made no change in our operational structure. we are still collectively run by the people who work here. We are a 'worker co-op' where employment at the store is a condition of membership in the co-op, and members hold equal shares in the corporation and are paid the same hourly wage. We currently have 18 members, all of whom are members of the board of directors, and are all responsible for the operations of the store. This structure preserves the founding collective principles of the business.
A worker co-op is different from a consumer co-op. In a consumer co-op, such as a grocery store or REI, the consumers shopping at the store are the members. A profitable consumer co-op can return co-op profits to the members based on their "patronage". For consumer co-ops, patronage is usually considered the members' purchases at the store. At the Missing Link, the employees are the members of the co-op, and their patronage is the hours they work at the store. If we have a profit at the end of the year, we can return the surplus of income to the members based on the number of hours they worked. This "patronage refund" is in addition to the hourly wage paid to all the members.
There are many types of cooperatives. There are co-ops that combine the consumer and worker co-op models. Other Avenues Food Co-op in San Francisco is an example. Since the early 1970's, the store has operated as a consumer co-op. Last year the consumer board voted to allow the employees of the store to run the business as a worker co-op. Other co-ops are supplier co-ops. Ace Hardware is the most recognized version of this type of co-op. Producer co-ops are common in the agricultural industry.
(Text by Marc Van Anda, from The Missing Link Web site)