Back in 2016, we founded Parallax Photographic and decided it should be a cooperative. Simply put, this means we are a business entirely owned and run by its employees.
You might have noticed that, in our name and web address, we call ourselves a “coop” – this stands for cooperative. We chose this model because we strongly believe that by working together as equals we can build a more democratic and sustainable business. One that will best serve our customers.
What Is A Cooperative?
A cooperative is a model for owning and managing a business democratically. There are a few types of cooperative, but the workers and/or producers are always the owners and managers. At Parallax Photographic Coop, we’re a workers cooperative, meaning all the power is in the hands of the employees. Collectively we make decisions about the direction and management of the business while, at the same time, sharing the responsibilities and risks. The primary purpose of a cooperative is to create a business that meets the needs of the workers, producers, and users. We don’t have any shareholders or bosses to please so we can focus on doing things the “right way” in the interests of the community.
Why Are We A Cooperative?
Our goal is to provide a fair deal for our customers and employees. We don’t have to satisfy any superiors, so we aren’t so worried about making huge profits. Any profit we generate is reinvested into the enterprise or returned to the members. Thus, the more successful we are, the more effectively we can keep the prices down. As well as ensure all our employees are paid a fair, living wage. It’s a win-win.
The freedom of not having a boss also means we can be highly flexible. Because every time you visit our shop, you speak to somebody who owns the business – they can help you with anything you need. Feel free to talk to any of us, we are always happy to help.
It is vital to us that we enshrine fairness, equality and community at the heart of our business. By making sure everyone’s voice is heard, we know that everyone’s well-being is considered. This helps us to create a more fulfilling and diverse workplace, into which everybody is welcomed. We recognise diversity is crucial to building a healthy and balanced community – whether you’re a complete novice or an old hand, we want everybody to feel comfortable when shopping with us.
The cooperative movement proves that sometimes it’s a collaboration, rather than competition, that holds the key to success. If you have any thoughts or opinions on how we could do things better, please let us know. We are always ready to listen.
No matter what, you have our commitment that we will always strive to be fair, honest and ethical in everything we do. We look forward to working with you so that, together, we can keep film alive well into the future.
Co-Operatives Fortnight runs from June 24 to July 7. During this time hundreds of co-ops work together to promote the work of cooperatives across the UK. Show your support using #coopfortnight.
Photograph © Max Barnett