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La Cavale, a bookstore for cooperating readers

Information updated on 17/12/19

A cooperative bookstore, unique in Montpellier and one of just a few in France, is located in Montpellier’s Beaux Arts neighborhood. It celebrated its first year on November 30, with two full-time employees and nearly 400 cooperators.

Plusieurs coopérateurs de La Cavale devant leur librairie©DR

A handful of enthusiastic residents in Montpellier’s Beaux-Arts district decided to create their own cooperative in 2018 to open a bookstore, after the small independent bookstore located on Rue de la Cavalerie closed its doors.
Nobody had the energy or resources to do it alone,” admits Sylvain Bertschy, president of La Cavale. Group momentum is what enabled us to recreate a bookstore and keep a small business alive.
The adventure was original, leading to the emergence of a “Cooperative Company of Collective Interest” (SCIC). Investor cost: 20 euros per share. La Cavale bookstore was born on November 23, 2018, with two full-time professional employees, Marion Floris and Julien Haution, and 135 cooperators. There are now 382 cooperators from the neighborhood and elsewhere, about 40 of whom help run the company in the social and solidarity economy.
Montpellier Métropole offers a very fertile area for the cooperative movement, which got started here in the mid-1980s,” adds the president. “You join a collective activity to get things done. Here, we talk about everything together, even our choice of books.”

Winner of “Let’s Dare to be Committed Entrepreneurs” competition

Cooperators get involved! Divided into ten committees, cooperators participate in managing activities and events inside and outside of the bookstore, including preparing for the Comédie du Livre book fair, as well as helping with everything from communication and human resources to electricity, plumbing, and cleaning. The general and independent bookstore, which wants to provide broad access to books and culture, also organizes lectures, meetings with authors, and debates on-site, and fully participates in Montpellier cultural life. La Cavale was present at the Arabesques Festival in September, and at the Tropisme Hall in October for the three days of “free reign” for science fiction author Alain Damasio.

On June 30, 2019, La Cavale received a Livres Hebdo award for the creation or take-over of a bookstore. It also won the Let’s Dare to be Committed Entrepreneurs competition organized by Airdie in partnership with Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole. This enabled the bookstore to launch another original initiative: a cargo-bike to use for off-site events related to books and lectures.

On November 30, La Cavale celebrated its first year in business, with 11,000 titles on the shelves and a list of 1,500 clients.
We still need to keep working, as we need to get past the three-year milestone. At this time, all our indicators are looking good,” confirms Sylvain Bertschy.

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