The Milkweed Mercantile is now a cooperatively owned and managed business.
This video explains why it's also a great investment.
If you have any questions about this opportunity please email them here:
The Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is offering an opportunity of co-ownership to our customers, family and friends.
The Milkweed Mercantile, privately run since its beginning, is now being reimagined as a worker-owned cooperative business, with the ongoing involvement of the original founders, Alline Anderson and Kurt Kessner.
Adding the energy of a ten-member strong board of directors actively working at the Mercantile is already transforming the business through additional service offerings and extended service hours. With a renewed focus on workshop development, marketing, and the introduction of improved financial controls, the new Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage cooperative is poised to continue to be one of the main drivers of a vibrant economy in our village.
The Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage provides meaningful work as an empowered worker-owned cooperative, demonstrating a world where people live and work cooperatively with respect for our planet and future generations. Our guiding principles are to:
Build a democratically-run co-operative workplace;
Continue to Develop more environmentally-sound business practices;
Provide high quality food products;
Provide a comfortable place for visitors to stay;
Support sustainable practices, like the use of organic gardening, cooperatively shared vehicle use, use of renewable energy and building materials.
A Brief History
Originally designed, built and opened in 2010 by Alline Anderson and Kurt Kessner;
Constructed of straw bales and renewable materials, powered by wind & solar;
Recipient of an Eileen Fisher Grant, recognizing businesses founded on creating environmental and social change, 2007;
Consistent 5-star guest rating on TripAdvisor;
Rated Top Ten Green Bed and Breakfasts by BedandBreakfast.com;
Regularly hosts 3-day to 2-week long events for groups of up to 25 participants, in cooperation with the nonprofit Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture and the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage community;
Added an Artist-in-Residence program bringing visual artists to Dancing Rabbit for ten-day stays to teach and share art with the community, 2011 .
Launched Mrs. Milkweed’s line of jam, chutney and pickles, 2014 ;
Best selection of craft beer in Scotland County;
Converting to worker-collective, 2017.
Offering of Shares
The Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is offering shares to our customers and friends. As of October 2016, we already have 12 shareholders and more than 30% of our financial need committed. We would welcome your investment. Here are answers to some common questions about our share offering
How much does a share cost?
A share is $10.00. We would like our shareholders to purchase at least 10 shares.
Does the share price ever change?
The share price will not change. Since we will be distributing all of our profits (minus a set reserve), shareholders receive a return that way, rather than through an increase in share price.
How do I purchase shares?
Please e-mail us at , and we’ll give you instructions. Since we are not a public company, we will first verify your relationship with our organization, since we cannot legally accept investment from parties not known to us.
When do I receive my profit share?
At the end of each fiscal year, we will close our books and pay taxes. We will then send out profit share checks. Our bylaws require us to complete our profit share payments no later than 8 months after the end of the fiscal year.
How may I redeem my shares?
You may e-mail us at or write us at 3 Dancing Rabbit Lane Rutledge, MO 63563 to redeem your shares, which will be redeemed at face value within 60 days of receipt of your request (subject to any restrictions or exceptions in our by-laws).
What happens to profits?
Profits, after taxes and expenses are applied first to maintaining a modest operating reserve, and the rest is distributed as follows:
60% to shareholders, based on shares held
40% to workers, based on hours worked
How do workers get paid and participate in decision making?
Employees get paid a competitive hourly wage as they always have. In a few short months, an employee may become vested in the company and will then receive a share of the profits in relation to the number of hours worked each year.
Who we serve
The Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage serves the residents of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, friends and neighbors from the surrounding communities and hundreds of visitors from all over the US and the world each year, through Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and various workshops that we organize, in partnership with the village’s non-profit and local tourism partners.
Overview of current programs
Recently, the Milkweed Mercantile has hosted or provided the necessary additional support for a number of programs including:
Permaculture Design Course: providing all meals for 20+ participants during 9-day certification courses;
Student Groups: providing meals, accommodations, and experiential workshops for multiple student groups who participate in grant-funded educational programs offered by the nonprofit at Dancing Rabbit;
Dogtoberfest: An annual fundraiser for area no-kill animal shelters, featuring a multi-course meal with beer pairings;
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage visitor program support: offering rooms, meeting space, and group meals as needed to host groups of eco-tourists and families looking to move to an ecovillage;
Catering events and parties for the local Rotary Club, social groups, and individuals.
Statement of need
The Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage seeks to raise about $45,000. We’re looking for funding help in two main areas:
Expenses already incurred or owed, related to formation of the business (legal paperwork, incubation & consulting expenses, filings)
Establishment of a capital reserve for operating expenses
Objectives and Goals
To grow the business in support of a healthy local economy, improving the lives of the workers, and to increase awareness of the real potential for leading environmentally sustainable and rewarding lives. Our goals include increasing our occupancy rate by 25%, and increasing the number of hosted programs by 30%, all within the first year. We also will increase the number of hours we are open for walk-in business from 30hrs per week to 70 hrs per week, in season.
We have already begun the research and outreach in a number of areas, and are confident in the capacity of the regional market to support these goals.
“Delicious food, good people, fine service. If you find yourself driving through NE Missouri, make time for this place. It's a wonderful way to experience an Eco Inn. They do it with class.”
-Jami via TripAdvisor
“After a comfortable night’s sleep (falling asleep and waking up to the chirp of birds and crickets outside) we were welcomed by Alline and Kurt who made us a fantastic breakfast (muffins, eggs, local sausage, and coffee/juice). I've never had a better experience.”
-Kim via TripAdvisor
“Having the opportunity to tour Dancing Rabbit and meet some of its citizens was a big part of the appeal of Milkweed for me. Yet this space should have a broad appeal to anyone (individual, couples, or families) that wants to get away and be truly cared for. I can't wait to return!”
-Valerie via TripAdvisor
An early arrival at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Alline has spent the last 17 years building a home, a village, and a life. Combining her experience in customer service & retail management; knowledge about keeping travelers satisfied & happy gleaned over 30 years as a volunteer Sierra Club trip leader; and interaction with hundreds of DR visitors, Alline developed the systems, policies and menus that have earned the Mercantile its top-notch reputation. Alline created the Mercantile's Artist-in-Residence program to bring more art to the village, and DOGtoberfest to raise much-needed funds for shelters in our area. She is the unofficial birthday cake queen at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, as well as the culinary powerhouse behind the growing and ever-popular Mrs. Milkweed’s line of jams and pickles. Alline will continue in her roles as baker, merchandise buyer, special events coordinator and schmoozer.
Workshop coordinator, tour guide, and jack-of-all-trades, Lucas is a former Military Policeman (Marine Corps and Army), and an active member of Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Lucas brings lots of experience to the table, having worked in healthcare accounting and program support for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and a combined four years of experience in food service management. Both friendly and professional with every guest, he often leaves them with a strong impression - especially when they ask him about how he came to live at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage! In February 2015, he was featured in a viral video (over 2.9 million views on Facebook) produced by AJ+, a popular social media news source. He has also shown aptitude for online marketing and outreach, having designed and executed a successful crowdfunding campaign to build a labyrinth for the community in 2015.
David (Cob) Carleton
Cob has been maintaining the storefront aspect of the business, observing what products customers do (and don’t) want, and looking for new products which align with our values as a business. Cob also restocks the shelves and tends bar, and serves as our Treasurer. A long-time member of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Cob also developed and runs our local public market and bulk grocery store, currently serves on the Village Council, and handles the bookkeeping for several organizations. Cob previously spent nearly 30 years serving as the Executive Director for multiple not-for-profit professional and trade organizations. Cob also has experience raising and tracking active children, baking, and brewing great beer.
Chef, webmaster, and graphic designer, Nik has spent years developing innovative menus and elegant presentations. Nik excels at taking what is in season, and delivering delicious meals which meet diverse dietary restrictions and budgets. Nik originally came to the Mercantile as a work exchanger, and also spent ten days as a Mercantile Artist in Residence, using his time to create painting pigments from natural materials found on Dancing Rabbit land. Nik is the designer behind the Mercantile website and Mrs. Milkweed's labels.
Pizza bella, kitchen wrangler, and co of all trades, K-star pitches in wherever needed, and keeps us on our toes. No stranger to good cooking, Katherine is a former vegan caterer and has since expanded her skillset to include gluten free delicacies and seasonal veggies from her garden. As a trained facilitator, she guides our decision-making meetings with humor, compassion, and focus, always helping us to bridge any differences in our opinions and perspectives. Katherine has served on the Dancing Rabbit Village Council, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Center of Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, the non-profit arm of the community. Cheerleader, friend, and all around ray of sunshine, she puts smiles on everyone’s faces.
Owner of the eponymous building firm Kessner Construction, Kurt built the Milkweed Mercantile, incorporating Alline’s design ideas, to showcase natural building techniques and alternative energy solutions in a comfortable setting. “Uncle Kurt” has been the ever-friendly and helpful person behind the bar for the past seven years, while also seeing to the physical maintenance and upkeep of the building. Kurt’s background includes over forty years of experience in the building trades and a stint in the Peace Corps teaching building mathematics & carpentry practicals. Kurt has a degree in counseling, picks a mean guitar, and can back up a truck and trailer like nobody's business.
Innkeeper and detail tracker, Rae ensures all guests have a 5 star experience during their stay at the Inn. As our President, she makes sure everything keeps running smoothly and that we’re planning and scheduling far enough ahead to meet the demands and expectations of all our customers. Rae’s background includes 17 years working in the hospitality industry, building her own natural green home, Video Production and Voice Over and working on educational outreach for the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.
Television professional and videographer, Aaron is working on improving our social media presence and presentation, customer research, identification of expanded opportunities and markets, and overall promotion of the business in our region. A creative thinker and idea generator, Aaron ensures we don’t get stuck in any box. He also has a passion for supporting social justice and environmental activism.
Bob keeps the welcome mat clean, cleaning and polishing with the attention to detail you might expect from a professional sailmaker. Bob was a key member of the construction crew when the Mercantile was first built, and has intimate knowledge of all of its systems and idiosyncrasies. In addition to keeping things ship shape, Bob has developed solid relationships with many of our local neighbors and landowners, and serves as an unofficial envoy to the larger community, keeping us up-to-date on local news and concerns.
Serial entrepreneur, software developer, and general problem solver, Brent’s analytical skills have been helpful for developing internal policies and procedures, determining what issue to tackle next, and what to pass off to a professional. Brent implemented the new point-of-sale system currently in use at the Mercantile, and has been helping us create procedural documentation to improve our flexibility in staffing as well as our group knowledge. Brent has previous experience managing the customer service experience for Fortune 500 customers of a major software company. He’s also started and continues to operate a small web-based service business.
If you have any questions about this opportunity please email them here: