Then she heard about the Oak Street Co-operative in Burlington, a plan to have a group of community residents buy 88-90 Oak St. and lease space to small, start-up businesses. The co-op received a mortgage on good terms from the Vermont State Employees Credit Union, raised $200,000 from shares sold to 70 community members and leased the space to Lara-Bregatta and two sisters whose Poppy Café & Market, like Café Mamajuana, is due to open Wednesday.
Instead of having a commercial building owner expecting Café Mamajuana to turn a hefty profit, Lara-Bregatta has dozens of community residents who are literally and figuratively connected to her business and who will receive dividend payments based in part on the café’s success.
“They have a vested interest keeping our business alive,” Lara-Bregatta said.
Matt Cropp is chair of the Oak Street Co-operative board. “There are 70 people,” he said, “who have an incentive to be an advocate.”