The Consumer Cooperative in Boffzen

The former Consumer Cooperative in 2020 Photo: Stefanie Waske

Going shopping in the late 19th century was tiresome and expensive: there were only a few small shops which just offered a modest selection of stable, basic food items. People bought eggs, milk and potatoes from local farmers, grew their own vegetables and had some live stock of their own. Some items of everyday use were offered by pedlars or were to be found in larger shops in Höxter or Holzminden.
From the mid 19th century onwards consumer cooperative came into existence in Germany. Consumers formed an association to buy goods in larger quantities and were then able to sell these goods more cheaply. They improved their material situation both as buyers and shareholders. First and foremost workers benefitted from such mutual support. In 1891, Max Eugen Noelle, co-owner of the Noelle & von Campe glassworks supported the founding of a local consumer cooperative.

The Consumer Cooperative through changing times: 1940s under the management of August Kaiser, Photo: Familie Ursula and Kurt Meyer (l.), 1950s, staff member Erika Scholz in front of the shop ((r. on the top) 1960s, the photo shows Wilhelm Meyer with his wife, Gertrud, daughter Erika and his grandchildren Petra (left) and Klaus. Photos (2): Family Scholz

The company built this two-family house which had the cooperative shop on the ground floor. The members of the „Consumer Cooperative Brückfeld“ obtained relatively cheap, unadulterated foodstuffs, including spirits. The goods had to be paid for in cash and any surplus was distributed to the members at the end of the year. The quality of the foodstuffs on offer was convincing: in 1897 the consumer cooperative already had 113 members and had consequently also attracted members who were not employees of the glass factories.
Until 1948 mostly former glassworkers ran the business, the last of these were Mr. & Mrs. Kaiser, who were known for their home-made herring dishes and other food items. The consumer cooperative consisting of about 100 members, continued to exist during the years of the NS regime and in 1942 was taken over by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. From 1948 onwards, cooperative business continued again as part of the Consumer Cooperative Weserbergland.
The merchant Wilhelm Meyer was manager of the business. In 1969 the business became part of the newly founded co op Group. Some four years later, the cooperative shop came to an end: Kurt Meyer bought the building and he ran a butcher’s shop there until 1991. After that the former shop was converted into an apartment.

Aerial photo of the glass factory in 1950, on the left the cooperative shop Photo: Elisabeth Pophal