View Full Version : co-op hostel?

07-04-2009, 11:46
is it possible to make a hostel a co op? or no cause theirs no profit. what if the hostel had a store and resturant? or laundry or other town used income producing device. can 500 people give a thousand dollars and ever hope to recoupe? can buisness make money on trail or not?

07-04-2009, 12:12
What you seem to be talking about is a Corporation (gasp) not a co-op. A Co-op is for the use of its members(investors) primarily.

For $500k you could open something similar to NOC. (Bunkhouse, campground, outfitter, tour operator, restaurant)

Nasty Dog Virus
07-04-2009, 12:18
REI might be the largest and most well known Co-op in the US as far as a retail business goes. Maybe you can get some info from them...

07-04-2009, 16:40
An owner-operator is the only way to go. Can you imagine a group (for example - Whiteblaze members) making decisions by committee?

07-05-2009, 08:51
Where do you want this hostel Matty? Just a suggestion but make it a church and go tax exempt.

07-05-2009, 10:29
Where do you want this hostel Matty? Just a suggestion but make it a church and go tax exempt.

There is the answer. Then they can serve moral judgements along with the trail magic.

07-05-2009, 10:53
I think the simple answer is "Yes" but there's more than just finding 500 members giving $1,000 each - it takes a lot of hard work. You need some sort of governing documents - constitution, by-laws, articles of incorporation, etc. - which determine how and by whom decisions are made. You also need meetings and annual reports, you need financial statements, especially in the start-up phase. You have to decide how one buys in and one sells out of the co-op. Chances are for the scale you're talking about, you need to hire staff or a caretaker; it be easier than trying to equitably share the work among all the members. Finally, don't forget having to comply with all local laws & regulations.

These are just a few examples I can think of depicting the work involved and factors to consider. IMO, a small co-op of about 10-20 members might avoid all this formality but not an organization with a membership base of 500.

As mentioned, REI is one example - obviously very large scale. Since moving to Lexington last month, I joined the Good Foods Co-Op (http://www.goodfoods.coop/) which operates a organic food grocery and cafe. As part of my membership, I receive annual credits based on my purchases but otherwise there's no financial benefit. I also have a voting share - all members have equal shares - and may participate in all meetings and elections of officers. Again, it's probalby larger scale than a hostel but closer to home than a big organization like REI. The point is everything is embodied in the Co-op's documents.

A hostel like you describe would have a different purpose in that it's not to intended serve its members as much as the general hiking public. And while it may not be profit-making, I would think investors would at least like to re-coup a portion or all of their investment. I think it's theoretically possible but again, be prepared to roll up your sleeves, sit through lots of meetings, and think.:-?

You may recall that when Shaw's came up for sale 3 years ago, some of the concern expressed on White Blaze included proposals or rather ideas about WBers getting together and forming a co-op. Fortunately, Shaw's was sold to hiker-friendly new owners who are doing a bang-up job.

07-05-2009, 12:10
Where do you want this hostel Matty? Just a suggestion but make it a church and go tax exempt.

Lot of potential here, I like it :)

Hoop Time
07-05-2009, 12:11
I would guess it would be tough for a business of any sort to make a go of it just on serving AT hikers alone. Especially the further north you go and the fewer through hikers you would have coming through. Sure there would also be business from section hikers, but you are still talking about a pretty narrow window for your peak season and a fairly limited market.

On the other hand, I think it would be a sound venture to have more of a multi-purpose business that caters to a range of outdoors enthusiasts if you had the right location. For example, it's not on the AT, but I think a smart operator with the funds to get started could do something in the Coburn Pa. area by marketing to fly fishermen, mountain bikers, paddlers, hunters in the fall/winter and hikers -- especially if you were able to more effectively promote the Mid State trail.

There is a B&B in town already that does pretty well just marketing to fly fishermen, with lodging and a fly shop that also offers guide service. They also do well on Penn State football home game weekends because of the proximity to State College.

Of course it also depends on just how profitable you would need the venture to be. If you are looking to get wealthy, it would be very different than if your goal was just to do get by while doing something you love.

07-05-2009, 12:37
Matty's church of inner light and nirvana. Now accepting donations. For a small contribution of just $1000 you too can receive the answer to life the universe and everything. If you would care to join his holiness in his quest for the ultimate truth, you will only be required to free yourself of all your material possessions with the exception of hiking/camping gear and bacon.

07-07-2009, 18:50
Where do I send my $1000 ??

09-16-2010, 22:54
Come On-believe me ,after serving hikers for 2 1/2 years-it is a labor of love. On the north bound season this year i took 3 months off of a job that paid well and risked not getting it back -to profit $200 (don't tell the feds).If you are looking to make money look elsewere but if you want spiritual rewards.......