The Shelburne Arts Cooperative (SAC) was founded in 1998 as a partnership of eight artists who wished to market their own work and that of other artists in the area. In August of that year, SAC opened the consignment store as a place where both fine arts and quality crafts could be sold. Many of the original members and consigners were people who wanted to have some control over how their work was sold, be able to keep their prices reasonable for the local market, and take advantage of Shelburne Falls as a growing tourist destination. At the time of the store’s opening, however, no one knew whether it would really last past the first holiday season.
Years later, we have survived and thrived. Shelburne Falls does indeed attract visitors, but we also see our share of the locals. Many changes have happened in the organization of the store; we have become closer to the ideal of the cooperative that our name suggests. Financial stability and artistic growth are two goals that we continually strive for. We are not just an outlet for our artwork; we are a community of artists working together.
We function differently from most consignment stores and, therefore, have several policies that reflect that. First, we ask our members and patrons to pay annual dues of membership. These dues are used to help us get through the slower winter months. Second, the store is entirely staffed by working members who are compensated by an increased percentage of their sold art based on hours worked.
If you are interested in becoming a member, please go to Join Us!
What is an Arts Cooperative?
Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the people who use them. Cooperatives differ from other businesses because they are member owned and operate for the benefit of members, rather than earn profits for investors. Like other businesses, most cooperatives are incorporated under State law.
In 1966 the International Cooperative Alliance adopted seven principles as guidelines for cooperatives. They reflect the spirit in which cooperatives were first formed and they are strongly represented in the day-to-day operations:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training, and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community