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The Cooperative Movement
In the latter half of the 19th Century the Danish cooperative-movement started with dairy cooperatives, cooperative slaughterhouses and consumer cooperatives. This type of economical organization among farmers was a successful way of combining family-run farming with profitable mass production of quality products.
The first Danish consumer cooperative by British model was founded in Thisted, Jutland in 1866. But unlike in other European countries, the Danish cooperatives were primarily based in rural areas as the cooperatives dealt in animal feed and fertilizers.
The Coop in Hvalsø was founded in 1915. In April 1915 a founding meeting was held with the election of a Board of Directors. The close association to the farming society was reflected in the composition of the Board consisting of 4 farmers from Hvalsø, Skov Hastrup and Særløse, one teacher, the Dairy administrator and the Ranger from Lerbjerg.
It was soon decided that the store was to be located on Hovedgaden 11, Hvalsø. On October 12th 1915, the store opened for sale to the 57 members of the cooperative. 24-year-old Alfred Hansen was headhunted to manager from his job as a shop assistant in the nearby Coop in Jystrup. He continued in his job for 35 years, when he was succeeded by his son, Ingvar Hansen, who carried on for another 35 years.
During the 1960’s the store outgrew itself, and in 1967 it was decided to buy the corner plot at Hovedgaden and Åsen in order to build a larger store. As the construction would exceed 2 million kroner, Hvalsø Coop decided not to venture as the builder; thus FDB, the Association of Danish Cooperative stores, stepped in. It was decided to skip feeding stuffs and instead concentrate on meat products, fruit and vegetables.
The new store with a retail space of 700 m2 opened in 1969. As business thrived the building was bought back from FDB on December 31st 1977 at the sum of 4,860,000 kroner, and Hvalsø Coop once again became an independent Coop under FDB.
In 1985 Sigurd Jørgensen was appointed store manager and he delegated responsibilities to his many employees. In 1992 the cooperation with FDB was discontinued as it was seen as restrictive to the self-determination.
Since 2001 Kim Kanstrup has been in charge of the store that today spans 3165 m2.
The class distinctions in the society of 1915 are reflected in the laws that were passed at the founding meeting in 1915, as the entrance fees were as follows;
Farmers and equals ………………. 200 Øre*
Shareholders and equals……….. 100 Øre
Tenants …………………………………. 50 Øre
Servants ………………………………… 50 Øre
*100 Øre goes on a Danish krone.