Patrons' Mercantile Co-Op

© Photographed April 25, 2013
Erected 1994 by the Dane County Historical Society
Black Earth, Dane County, Wisconsin
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Oldest Cooperative in the Nation
Town of Vermont farmers, beset by a depressed economy in the early 1890's, organized a company to obtain quality products at fair prices. Amos Thorsrud was the first general manager. He and Nels Simley toured local farms to sell $10 shares in a company store, raising $1800 capital to finance an inventory of farm supplies. A share of the profits would be returned to the patrons.

The store opened April 9, 1894 in a rented building. In 1897, the business moved to this site. Fire destroyed the old store in February, 1933. Rebuilt by November, "The Store" operated here until 1994.

The Co-op's purpose has always prevailed: "Ownership by the patrons and affordable products."
The marker is located on southbound Mills Street / County Road F, on the southwest corner of its intersection with Spring Street, Black Earth, Wisconsin 53515.

Black Earth Chamber of Commerce: A brief history of Black Earth by Tony Schreiner, Black Earth Historical Society

The marker is No. 30 in the Dane County Historical Society Markers Series.

First photographed April 25, 2013.

The marker is located in Black Earth, Wisconsin.

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