In days gone by…
The Colville Cooperative Society commenced in 1978 as a food buying cooperative to supplement the then failing Colville Store.
The Cooperative purchased the buildings in 1979. This was made possible by the financial support of Alistair McKee, and the drive, business and accounting skills of Phillip Anderson and Peter Cummings and a large supporting group of (mostly) new locals who ran the store, restaurant and the ‘Roadrunner’ travelling shop to campgrounds. It converted the house attached to the store into a weekend nightly restaurant. The key to the Society was its cooperative nature where there were no particular owners, shared and cooperative work style, non-hierarchical management structure, many hours of unpaid support by many involved and a deep belief in it as an essential part of Colville’s fabric of life.
From the beginning the emphasis was to have many part-time shared jobs in the Store, spread through the community rather than fewer full-time jobs. This coincided with an influx of new people to the area who believed in a more community style of living.
The Society has maintained its businesses and supported the growth of other Colville social groups and activities both as an initiator an umbrella organisation for over 3 ½ decades, and remains not only one of the few rural general stores left but still an essential part of Colville village and its surrounding area. It is a genuine ‘tourist icon’ as well. Over the decades it has altered and tweaked its running structures, both directly run and leased the cafe as it morphed into a cafe/restaurant, supporting the cafe financially at times to keep it viable as an important facility to Colville village, while always maintaining its open cooperative nature. The daily store management system, as separate from the Society itself, has altered and changed over the decades as needs dictated, but remained cooperative with high staff input to the running of the Store.