Fourteen Little Rock artisans — makers of paper and soaps; bread, jams and jellies; artwork and crafts; and more — are working to open Little Rock’s first worker-owned store, cafe and community arts
The Bread and Roses Cooperative — named for a 1912 strike by immigrant textile workers in Massachusetts who adopted the slogan “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too” — was conceived by several Little Rock community organizers and artists. When the 1,000-square-foot storefront, formerly Forever Yours Tattoo, became available for lease by Graham’s Property Management and Real Estate Co., the idea became reality.
“A bunch of people in the community started getting upset because we don’t need another lame boutique,” said co-op member Kenny Grand, 34, who is helping with logistics and recruitment for the co-op. “So, I was like, why don’t we take it over and make it into a community space?” After
“This could be the same idea, all the things could happen in the same spot,” Gudino said. “And it would be better for everything to be happening in one spot because it would be more likely to survive.”
In 2016, Grand helped found the Little Fox Foods Co-op, which was run out of the Meadowcreek Rural Enterprise Incubator in North Arkansas. That venture has since ended; Grand said he’s hopeful Bread and Roses will be able to achieve more longevity.
A worker-owned cooperative is a business in which no one person or entity has
Other co-op members include Levi Coffman, who does leatherworking; Kennedy Djimpe, who currently runs Bread and Roses’ social media and who also wants to be involved in childcare programming with an emphasis on music; Elliot Nowlin, who will be contributing to zine making, community organizing and food prep; and Madere Toure, an artist who said he wants to help plan shows for other artists in the space.
Grand said the cooperative plans to work with the New South Produce Cooperative in North Little Rock as a source of milk, eggs and cheese that Bread and Roses will sell along with baked goods and other items. Plans also call for readings, gallery showings and other public uses of the space. Grand said the co-op also hopes to make good on Gudino’s idea to provide childcare both for its members and patrons while they visit the business.
Bread and Roses’ members will prepare baked goods off-site in commercial kitchens. Stainless steel countertops and industrial refrigerators have been donated to the cooperative, as has a hot dog cart, a gift from the Islamic Center for Human Excellence on Wright Street, according to Grand. The co-op has also set up a GoFundMe page. Construction is being done by members of the co-op.
The main difference between working for a cooperative and working for oneself “is we realize we’re all the boss,” Grand said. “There’s not a designated investor person who’s like, ‘My old man had the cash for it,’ or ‘I had the idea and
Bread and Roses Cooperative is also establishing itself as a place of inclusivity, a cafe that welcomes all comers. “This is an explicitly trans-positive space, this is an explicitly queer-positive space, this is an explicitly black-lives-matter space, this is an explicitly pro-immigrant, pro-Muslim space,” co-op member Caitlin Roberts of Little Rock, 36, a former nurse who now homeschools her children and makes soaps and
“It’s never been a stranger to the working-class rural community,” Grand added.
“These are the people who already all know the benefit of alternative power structures and community cooperation because that’s the only way we’ve survived,” Roberts said.
Hampton Roy, 25, a local historian and co-op member who plans to help with food prep and educational workshops, also said the reliance on
“The way that it’s growing is [it’s] not just one person accumulating something, it’s horizontal and enfolding,” Roberts said.
Bread and Roses
For more information about the Bread and Roses Cooperative and updates on