Yesteryear’s Country Catalogue Store Revirtualized

As far as I know you read it first here: “Revirtualize is to revitalize virtually”.  

In this case, we are taking yesteryear’s country catalogue store and revitalizing it through a community portal and walled garden.  Think of big box stores without the big boxes; specialty stores without the stores; and local stores without storefronts which can empower a community quite dramatically.  Most big box stores have site to store programs where you can order online and they will ship it to the nearest store to you if it isn’t already in stock.  Why not have a catalogue store harkening back to old times where goods can be shipped to your community owned general store which may be also the post office and catalogue store.

Let’s go back to simpler times and see if we can keep the shopping process simple and reminiscent of those simpler times when people use to walk, ride or drive to town once a month and pick up their mail orders.  Picture this rustic rural general store managed by the local community development cooperative just on the outskirts of town on the edge of a lake where the roads are not paved.  The store manager’s dog, Sheba, mostly American foxhound and generally parked on the top step of the expansive covered front porch overseeing everything,  is wagging her tail and body like a four legged snake while greeting another customer just arriving.  Inside everyone has gathered around a wood burning stove on a chilly Saturday morning in fall having a cup of Buck’s hot coffee, or cocoa, and discussing the latest broadband and community happenings.  Ah yes, you even have free community WiFi Internet access available and can become instantly a local authority on whatever topic is being discussed.  Everyone has converged to pick up their online mail orders ordered through their community portal.  These may have come from elsewhere in the world by postal services or by courier, and you were notified via e-mail or instant messaging that your order has just arrived.  Or perhaps they were just hand delivered from across town by Sarah who has a website hosted on the community’s server from which you ordered her herbal products, grown locally by her, or by Ryan, the local computer technician, who just rebuilt your computer with new components ordered online from one of those specialty stores.  In the background, you’re hearing a local radio station discussing the local events and news.   Music is being simultaneously broadcast across the Internet and over the air waves. 

Your Community Catalogue Store can be architected in more ways than one to reflect the needs and wants of the community.

Establish a community walled garden enhanced by strategically placed wireless digital signage as part of a community portal informing residents, tourists and visitors of your community events and services.  Again, your community could create a virtual catalogue store and not only facilitate local home based businesses but facilitate specialty stores and big box stores without the big boxes through affiliate marketing and site to catalogue store programs all negotiated through the buying power of the local cooperative. 

We’ve discussed the Community Walled Garden before in another posting and through affiliate marketing your community’s catalogue store can become not just the purveyor of practical and hard-to-find products but also the local store for local goods.  Given that the community has created this walled garden through a cooperative endeavor any affiliate benefits of ordering through the community portal becomes part of the revenue and perhaps dividends to the community members.

Remember, What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!


Community Cooperacy

Four Cs now supercede the three Rs.  It is no longer about just the three Rs: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.  Our future now depends on the four Cs: Community, Content, Connectivity, and Cooperation.  A new term has been coined to accentuate this overall direction and it is referred to as “cooperacy” or even “community cooperacy”.  Just reference the following blog in the Linkedin group “Cooperatives” to see how this came about:

One merely has to follow the various connectivity technologies providing enough bandwidth to accommodate current broadband needs to realize that content really rules and indeed content is king.  More specifically look how cable providers are prevailing over the telcos, primarily due to content and primarily due to entertainment.  Look how 3G and 4G cellular technology is taking a large portion of revenue due to mobility in the form of smart phones and tablets from cable, telco, and WiMAX networks.  Consequently, should a community spend an inordinate amount of resources assessing their connectivity options?  Or, should a community best spend their resources to position themselves to manage their own content for their own benefit?  This is just another approach on “build it, they will come”.

My daughter recently pointed out to me that with social media networking you’re not the consumer, you’re the product being marketed.  So, why aren’t communities concerned with the fact that these cloud computing applications are not resident in the community?

I also refer to cooperacy as FAIM: Funding, Applications, Infrastructure and Methodology, the four fundamental aspects of empowering a community with their own resources, basically funding with an aim.  Funding, applications, infrastructure and methodology are synonymous with community, content, connectivity, and cooperation respectively.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

Financing the Cooperative Startup

Let’s take another approach at financing other than looking just for government subsidies and handouts with respect to addressing community aspirations.

Hopefully we’re all familiar with service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc. who do such great things locally, regionally and internationally.  There are service clubs in demise which could be resurrected under a different tutelage.  Most communities have some sort of community center which in some cases amounts to the local watering hole or restaurant.  Think of these clubs as cooperatives which in a way they are, one member, one vote.  So, now think of having a generic community service club which anyone can join regardless of religion, race, or creed.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  All I’m doing is giving you a different perspective on what already exists to formalize the creation of a local Community Development Cooperative.  To some degree these already exist in a different form such as the local Chamber of Commerce or local trade association which really aren’t broad enough in their membership to encompass residents or in some cases businesses which may be franchised for example.  Instead of a charter the community should have a cooperative agreement perhaps even tiered to consider the difference between residents, businesses, associations and institutions with only residents having voting privileges in this case.  You may even already have a community association in place which could become the Community Development Cooperative as the economic self-sustaining center for the community or region.

Think of what service clubs do for financing and fund raising: membership fees, luncheons, silent auctions, etc.  Look at what is being spent by the community outside of the community and how much of that could be kept in the community.  What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

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