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This month we talked with Bruce Mcfarlane who is a founding member of the co-op behind The Addington Store. Rethink has supplied the store with our products since 2018 and we think you will admire and respect the principles and values of this unique social enterprise.
Who is behind The Addington Store (and The Addington Coffee Co-op)?
The Addington Coffee Co-op and The Addington Store were established by a group of about ten people who have all been friends for years. Only two members of the group work there, but they all pay for their own coffee just like everybody else!
Can you remember the moment the co-op was created & how long you've been around?
Over the years the group of friends would get together and discuss all manner of things, often focussing on subjects around their shared values. Living locally to each other, they contemplated finding a nice, old building to open a café which would serve as a community hub with a public lounge where people could meet over a cup of coffee. They decided that if a building ever turned up, that’s what they’d do. And then, low and behold around 15 years ago a building did become available, and they set about realising their ambitions.
The previous tenants included an auto electrician and a service station, so as you can imagine the building was grubby and grimy. Starting on a shoestring budget and taking around two years of elbow grease scrubbing down walls and pinching pennies searching Trade Me for furniture, fridges and ovens, the co-op was eventually launched in 2008 and the friends’ dream became a reality.
What is your core mission as a team?
The co-op is a way to give consumers, producers, and their communities a vehicle to make the changes in their lives that they want to see in the world.
When you visit, the store wants you to feel a sense of belonging, whether you are a friend of the Café who has been going there for years, or someone who has just popped in for the first time, this is a space for you to enjoy, and feel safe and cared for.
None of the owners have ever received a single cent of the profits. The co-op aims to operate effectively as a successful business, not only employing staff (many of whom are students) but also one which allows the stakeholders to distribute profits to their chosen charities. They have strong connections to a couple of organisations in Kolkata, handpicked as recipients of their profits because they create employment, typically empowering women in the apparel business. In addition to this, the co-op also helps to support a local primary school, and for many years has had a close partnership with Trade Aid.
What is the co-op’s proudest moment and next big goal?
Bruce explains that it’s the little moments with customers that creates everyday fulfilment. Sometimes a customer may come in and you can presume that the world has not treated them well and that they have had a bit of a rough journey. Making a connection and helping the customer to feel noticed and cared for is the co-op’s raison d'être and what fills Bruce with the most pride.
When we asked Bruce what is the co-op’s next big goal he paused and cheerfully replied through a chuckle, “We’ll stick to our knitting!” What they are doing is working well and they don’t want to “fluff it” up.
Words of wisdom.
Bruce recommends that if this the direction you want to head, don’t be a lone ranger because your journey could be fraught with peril. Ideally the group should be around 3-6 people, consisting of either friends or like-minded souls, to plot and plan and bounce around ideas. This is critical because then you can incubate your ideas and share the passion to keep the fire burning.
What is your favourite Rethink product & how do you use it?
Bruce has noticed that The Addington Store’s customers are really excited about Rethink Bread Bags because they use them for storing home baked goods.
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