In Edinburgh, St Cuthbert’s Co-operative Association was the king of the co-ops and the company boasted numerous branches across the city. Leith too, for a time, had its own Leith Provident based at Great Junction Street. Similar to a department store, the co-op offered consumer goods such as household wares, Formica-topped furniture, and the latest fashion trends. But as the 20th century progressed, St Cuthbert’s widened its scope, launching its own dairy, bakery, butchers, funeral services and a whole host of other offerings. Each customer was also a stakeholder of sorts and was assigned their own unique multi-digit ‘divi’ or dividend number, which would see them receive a remuneration at the end of the financial year, based on how much they had purchased and how much profit the co-op had accrued in total. Even to this day, if you speak to a former St Cuthbert’s shopper, they’ll more than likely remember their mum’s divi number. Some things you just never forget. The name of St Cuthbert’s - or “the store” as it was universally known in Edinburgh - vanished in 1981 when the company merged with Dalziel’s of Motherwell to become the Scottish Midland Co-operative Society; a firm we know today as Scotmid.
WHILE co-operative societies continue to exist and thrive in 2019, there’s no denying their glory days belong to the previous century.
Johnston Press Resell