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The Co-op Story V

Carluke c.1920

Then came the question of stocking the shop. For this purpose a deputation was chosen from the original founders to go to Glasgow and purchase a stock of necessary articles. The movement had now begun to attract attention, and the deputation, which included the secretary, Mr H. Andrew, was accompanied to Carluke Station by a number of well-wishers. Amongst these was a well-known character, who was afflicted with a slight stutter, which became more and more pronounced in moments of excitement. As the train carrying the members of the deputation left the station, he ran along the platform waving his arms and stuttering, “ M-m-mind p-p-pit ile and w—w-weeks."   (Coal oil and Lamp wicks) The incident may now be regarded as a promise of greater things to come, for the “ Store," through its 150 years of success, has been controlled and guided by men who minded pit ile and weeks," and those associated with them in the world of work. Then came that day in February, 1862, when Carluke Cooperative Society threw open its doors in the service of the community. An eye-witness depicts how the founders assembled in Market Road, and waited for the time when the “ Store " would be a going concern. A well-known merchant, who had his premises in Market Road, is said to have come out of his shop and. looking at the modest sign “ Carluke Equitable Pioneer Co-operative Society, Ltd., remarked, “ It will not be long until you are down out of that."

 

Carluke c.1960
Coop Gala Day

 

 His prophecy proved true, for the Carluke Cooperative Society, during the 150 years of its existence, has been compelled on several occasions to remove its sign to larger premises to meet the demands of its growing trade. We can now afford to look upon such incidents with charity, including in them, the attempts at boycott in 1869 and 1896. They were the efforts of men who, like the God Thor in the City of Jotenheim in the Land of the Giants, strove with forces, the magnitude of which they did not realise. None of them were to be blamed for being unable to completely visualise the time when cooperation would have fleets upon the seas, extensive possessions abroad, cover this country with its factories and workshops, and become a world-wide movement. William Scott was the first salesman, for the Society had not yet attained the dignity of a manager.

The first customer was William Frame, who purchased two ounces of tobacco. Amongst the first members to purchase from the store was the late Mrs William Good, wife of one of the founders, and who was some time ago honoured by the Society as the sole remaining original member. Such is the plain unvarnished tale of Carluke Co-operative Society. .Movements like that of cooperation have to go through two phases before they are accepted as a matter of fact. These are ridicule and opposition. Ridicule in their opening stages, and opposition when their success is assured; and that opposition does not always come from without. Carluke Cooperative Society had survived the first stage and was now to feel the full effect of the second. Under a succession of salesmen it had varied fortunes. The rise and fall in its fortunes can be well illustrated by the remark of a shrewd committee-man who, when asked regarding the progress of the store under a salesman who was also a member of committee, said:

Grocery Dept
Employees

Sandys daeing weel eneuch in a wey. Whiles we get a shillin o dividend and whiles we get naething. I'm no shair but the members wad be better pleased if they aye got a shillin or maybe aye got naethin. A good deal of common sense and business acumen lay at the bottom of this remark—the desire for stability rather than fluctuation. But despite the opposition from without, and the defects within, the Carluke Co-operative Society continued to make progress. In a number of years the premises in Market Road were found to be too small, and larger premises were found at the Churchyard Brae, those which were later used by the late James Graham as a Registry Office.

Continued..

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