Article about Direct Co-ops by Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun

Amazing efforts, heroes and artists


David can sometimes beat Goliath.

When it comes to retail sales it’s such a tough time for small mom and pop operations. Big operations have a price advantage.

Not any more.

“Direct Co-ops has launched an initiative that will see 29 million small and medium enterprises come together to form the world’s largest buying group,” reads a statement from Direct Co-ops. “Through the cooperative, these SMEs will have the purchasing power to lower costs on everyday business products and services, making them more competitive with ‘big box’ stores.”

I got to tell you as much as I find myself in box stores shopping, my favourite experiences are when I am in an urban neighbourhood or a smaller town looking at retail stores, often run by families.

They not only have unique merchandise, food or fashion, they are also the heartbeat of many towns.

However, it’s no easy task taking on the big boys.

“Now more than ever, small businesses are being squeezed out by big box retailers,” says Ahmed Attia, CEO and Founder of Direct Co-ops.

This idea helps with this.

“Our goal is to level the playing field by bringing all the mom and pops together to help them cut costs much like Walmart does,” Attia said. “By purchasing products together with other businesses, we can negotiate lower purchasing prices on the products and services we need to run our businesses and items we retail to our customers.”

If 1,000 small businesses do this, they can cut the cost by 75%.

“The Direct initiative is a great way of supporting independent business,” said Mike Shepard, chair of the Business Improvement Area for Kensington Market and founder of Big Fat Burrito. “Independent businesses are the backbone of our middle class, so it gives people the opportunity to keep our middle class strong.”

People power.