I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess as to how many people, gazing at the front of the village’s beloved institution, the Allendale Co-op, would be able to say just what’s different this year. Of course, it’s the shade of lettering on the big sign, isn’t it, now a paler shade of green than we’re used to. But still lovely all in all.
Founded in 1874, the Allendale Co-operative Society Ltd is one of the few remaining independent co-operatives in the country. It’s wholly owned by its members, who are drawn from every section of the local community. It’s famous throughout the region for having just the right things that you need to get through the day, whether you’re doing a spot of DIY, or rustling up a banquet for 20, or just putting a packed lunch together.
Members in good standing can pay on credit (except for cigarettes or alcohol), which is so handy for those times when you just don’t have any cash on you, and then prompt payment at the end of each month is very much appreciated. Pick up the invoice at the till when you’re next in the shop!
Every year, the Co-op holds its annual general meeting towards the end of January (this year on Monday the 21st at 7pm in the Fire Station — Neville Pringle, the general manager, is a volunteer fireman, so is always on call). Everyone is welcome to attend, but as is usually the case for these meetings, around the organisations in the village, rather few show up, perhaps for fear they may be seconded into a directorship role. But a faithful few do appear, and they help to support the directors as they keep the Co-op afloat for another year.
Actually, the business model for the Co-op must be quite canny (the group holds a few properties throughout the village, which bring in rental income, and at the same time employs a significant number of local folks of varying ages — the Co-op has long been a training ground, and a first employment opportunity, for the village’s young people). Not only that, but the Co-op’s own charitable fund goes out annually, often distributed to the tune of a couple thousand pounds, to good local causes.
And the goodwill the Co-op reaps from the community is second to none throughout these Allen valleys; people support this institution as well as they can, and are repaid with a shop that’s open for them throughout all kinds of fierce weather and storms, even when access into and out of the village is disrupted because of snow.
Folks love the Allendale Co-op, and nobody need hazard a guess about that, for sure.