The effort to sustain our communities and their economic and civic life for future generations scored a significant victory recently on Deer Isle.
The employees of three retail businesses—Burnt Cove Market, V&S Variety and Pharmacy, and The Galley market—became concerned when word circulated that the owners were thinking about selling the stores and retiring. Potential buyers who were not part of the community may not have maintained the same level of jobs and services, and other employment options on the island are limited.
So the employees banded together to create the Island Employee Cooperative (IEC) and buy the stores. They are now one of the largest employers on the island, the largest worker cooperative in Maine and the second largest in New England. This is the first time that multiple businesses of this size and scope have been merged and converted into one worker cooperative, making this a particularly groundbreaking achievement.