Seminary Co-Op Bookstore looks to improve collaboration efforts with shareholders

Contributing Writer

A group of community leaders, charter members, and shareholders of the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave., gathered together on Saturday afternoon, May 20, for a Town Hall meeting to discuss the possibility of restructuring their business model while creating a marketing strategy that would “help people get more involved with the bookstore in the near future.”

The event was hosted by Jeff Deutsch, director of the Co-Op Bookstore, who explained to the shareholders during Saturday’s meeting that there would be plenty of changes on the horizon.

“This Town Hall meeting was designed to reach a wider audience,” said Deutsch, about improving communications with shareholders through technology. “We are doing today’s meeting via webcast live for those members who were unable to make the last meeting. And we will look to launch our podcast before June.”

Back In February, Deutsch proposed a change in membership status for those “61,395 shareholders” who did not participate in past meetings, and suggested that their statuses should be changed to “cooperative members,” while retaining their discounts at the Seminary Cooperative Bookstore at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St.

In May, he also proposed that the status of the 50,000 shareholders who haven’t made a purchase in two years (or didn’t attend a governance meeting), should be changed to “charter members.”

“This is an exciting time for the Co-Op,” Deutsch said. “(This year) We have seen a 5.1 percent sales increase. And if you add last years five percent increase, it would be ten [percent].”

Although the Seminary Co-Op bookstore made financial progress in 2017, Deutsch explained that three years ago, it was a struggle.

“We lost up to three-hundred thousand dollars in 2014,” Deutsch said.

In spite of the losses, his goal for the bookstore is to increase revenue; increase membership; improve the overall communication between the shareholders through social media, webcast, podcast and email; engage members to be more involved; have both the organization leadership and shareholders work together in a collaborative effort to achieve a goal.

“I felt today’s meeting was very positive,” Deutsch said. “I definitely felt a spirit of collaboration.”

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