Work Together (Archive)

Intercooperation in North America: the creation of the first worker-owned bakery

The Grain Exchange Worker-owned Co-op in Calgary (Canada) has used a crowdfunding campaign to help launch the first worker-owned bakery in the region. The Canadian Worker Cooperative Federation (CWCF) has for several years sought to replicate the Arizmendi Bakery / Pizzeria Co-ops of the San Francisco Bay Area (USA) in Canada, and it has identified a group in Calgary to do it, recently incorporated as the Grain Exchange Co-op. The cooperative hopes to open the bakery next year.

31 July 2015

The approach behind the Arizmendi model is to start with a thriving worker cooperative, in this case an artisan bakery / pizzeria, and then replicate it, loosely based on franchising except that the goal is to increase growth of the worker cooperative movement. The significant advantage to their approach relative to other new start-ups is that the success rate is higher, and once there is a foothold in a region with a first cooperative, there can be additional worker cooperatives replicated.

The Association of Arizmendi Co-operatives has been very helpful in sharing business plans, recipes, members’ time, etc. – in exchange for commitments that the elements shared stay within the worker co-operative movement and that the Grain Exchange Co-op will support future replications.

Grain Exchange Co-op was the subject of a recent CBC Calgary story, here