The smell of coffee, tea and baked goods pour over you as you walk through the glass door into Flat Iron Cooperative. People arrive ready to discuss legislation at one of Flat Iron’s “Meet and Greets” with candidates, to attend various civic organizations’ meetings, listen to music, or just grab a coffee.
Members of Flat Iron re-opened a shuttered business that closed in 2020 with a cooperative vision. Larisa Demos was part of an all-woman team that re-opened the coffeehouse in December of 2021 as a co-op.
The Flat Iron Cooperative operates as a hybrid co-op with worker members and consumer members working together to own and operate their business. They currently have a handful of worker members and nearly one hundred consumer members; consumer members buy an equity share for $100 and participate in the co-op though annual meetings and board seats alongside worker members.
The founders’ main goal was to create a welcoming space for everyone in the community. They believe their success is due to their structure and in creating a welcoming atmosphere with great drinks and plenty of food options for many dietary preferences.
While pursuing their main goal of opening a co-op, the members of Flat Iron are part of rejuvenating a downtown, rooting jobs and wealth in a critical Vermont community. Seeing those who are food insecure, Flat Iron launched the “Table 7” program that allows anyone in need to receive food and/or beverages simply by telling the staff person to bring it to Table 7.
Flat Iron is a leader in the cooperative community, too. They are members of the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives, a regional co-op of co-ops supporting, developing and educating about worker co-ops. They are also members of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, supporting a national voice for worker co-ops.
Flat Iron is easy to find at the southern end of Bellows Falls’ Square and they welcome you in making the coffeehouse a home for cooperation, good food and more. flatiron.coop • 802-732-8371
Written by Dylan Hatch and Adam Trott.
Thanks to the Cooperative Development Foundation: CDF promotes self-help and mutual aid in community, economic and social development through cooperative enterprise. CDF administers a family of funds that provide grants to promote cooperative development and innovation. The foundation also engages in educational programming that both enables networking among cooperative development practitioners and raises awareness about cooperatives in the public policy arena.