Ragnarokr Financial Data
Although Ragnarokr kept sales tax records and annual partnership and profit and loss statements from its inception, these records were not archived. Important information about inventories of products and supplies and breakdowns of purchases and sales were not routinely prepared. During its first 15 years, the shop operated on a cash basis. The shop’s money was kept in a bag. Cash for expenses was taken from the cash bag and cash from sales were placed into the cash bag. Beginning about 1975 Steve Burdick kept a ledger of sales in many categories for sales, manufacturing and excise tax purposes but those ledgers were not available to the author. The shop had a bank account but it was used only for paying rent and suppliers. In the latter part of the 1970s payroll records were kept for some craftsmen but they are not reliable.
Copied below are some of the few financial documents available to the author. Perhaps the most relevant information is the wage and consignment rates in items 4 and 5. These clearly show the steady decline of the wages paid to the workers at the leather shop. Item 6 shows the annual cash income of a full-time Ragnarokr worker. The total income does not include in-kind payments and subsidies such as free rent and transportation expenses. The annual cash income of George, Colleen, Philip and Mary has to be discounted for the fact that most of the work-year was spent on the farm without any income at all.
Ragnarokr paid a subsistence wage throughout its history and was rarely able to achieve economies of scale. None of the principals had a business background and none were interested in being businessmen. The community created and maintained the leather shop. The leather shop did not create nor did it maintain the community. Ultimately the community ceased to exist because it became too tied to the leather shop. The community would not support an effort to diversify the community’s economic base in 1980 and this led to a split among the principal persons running the business. The split was never healed. The shop’s business never recovered from the 1986 move away from the original location on Baldwin Street and its business suffered a slow decline that led to the shop’s closing in 1996.
Item 1: Sales and payments to craftsmen
July-December 1970 total sales were $6,110.52
In 1973, when the total sales were $18,528, co-op payments were 76%, consignment payments 13% and jobbed goods 8% of the total sales.
From January-September 1973 total sales were $13,897 and expenses were $13,951. The break down of expenses for January-September 1973 was advertising $68, shop maintenance $1,670, purchase of stock, consigned goods and supplies $6,971 and payments to co-op members $5,242. November 1973 total sales were $1,318 and December 1973 total sales were $3,714.
|Year||Co-op payments||Consignment payments||Rent||Total sales|
|1978||$6,185||$1,246||Rent & building $6,000||unknown|
Item 2. Value of inventory at retail value
1975 January co-op $2,733, consignment $1,191, findings and leather $1,865
1989 $13,353 January 1
Item 3. Profit and Loss Statement
Items 4. Ragnarokr’s wage rates
A co-op worker’s labour share of the retail selling price:
April 1969 until January 1970 Ragnarokr was a commune with open membership. Until January 1970 no production records were kept. Each worker received room and board and a little pocket change. Membership was open to anyone in the draft dodger/hippie community. In February 1970 membership was restricted to Steve Spring, Randy Rauton, Mary Rauton and Philip Mullins. Any new members had to be voted in by the existing members.
February 1970 until January 1972 Ragnarokr was a commune with closed membership. After January 1970 each craftsperson received room and a percentage of the value of his production. In August 1970 George Mullins and Madelyn Averette joined the commune. These six were the full-time staff and had ownership rights. Other individuals worked in the shop as guests and were paid at either the co-op or consignment rights.
January 1972 until February 1973 the worker’s share was 50%. After January 1972 the leather shop stopped the routine practice of paying for group expenses out of the cash drawer. Each craftsman kept a record of his production and took draws from his account as money was available. The shop continued to pay group expenses but only after a formal decision-making process involving the six principals.
February 1973 until perhaps 1975 the co-op worker’s share was 45%.
Perhaps 1975 until January 1 1978 the co-op worker’s share was 40%.
After January 1, 1978 the co-op worker’s share was 35%.
|1974||Retail over $10||25%|
|1977||Retail over $10||33%|
|1977||Retail under $10||50%|
Items 6. Income of a full-time Ragnarokr worker, 1968-1984
This table shows the Unadjusted Pensionable Earning as reported by Philip Mullins to Revenue Canada on his Income Tax returns. It shows his cash income from the Ragnarokr Cordwainery. Until January 1972 many expenses, such as room and board, were paid by the business and were not counted as cash income. After January 1972 each person received a rent allowance. The rent allowance covered the cost of their lodging (but not food) when they were in Toronto. The rent allowance is not included as cash income.
|1968||$1995||Including earnings from employment at J & J Brook Design|
|1969||$928||This is 25% of Ragnarokr’s profits for the year.|
|1970||$1176||Beginning in 1970 records of individual earnings were kept.|
|1972||$1010||Beginning in 1972 Ragnarokr was a cooperative.|
|1973||$3795||Including $3,373 earnings from employment at Heron Bay.|
|1978||$3392||Including the earnings of Olabanji Famewo at Silverstein’s Bakery.|
|1979||$0||Attending school full-time at George Brown College.|
|1980||$0||Left Toronto in June 1980 for Texas.|
|1984||$3524||Returned to the leather shop in January 1985.|
|1985||$0||Employed in an Exxide plant in Toronto|
Income of individuals in 1988:
|Randy Rauton||$3,567 Randy is a full-time student|
|Philip Mullins||$390 Philip is living in Texas, the payment is reimbursement for items consigned to the leather shop, primarily Mexican imports|
Financial Chronology of the Ragnarokr Cordwainery
April 1969. The leather shop was opened at 11 Baldwin when the Yellow Ford Truck moved to 25 Baldwin Street. It was capitalized with a loan of $400 from Lee Welch, $50 from Colleen Anderson, a half a month’s rent from the Yellow Ford Truck and contributions from Philip Mullins and Mary Rauton.
July 1969. The entire building at 11 Baldwin was rented to provide living quarters for the people working in the leather shop. January 1970. Ragnarokr became a co-operative. The shop provided all materials, room and board to the four partners and paid most group expenses including expenses associated with Frostpocket.
June 1970. Steve Spring, Randy Rauton, Philip Mullins and Mary Rauton have jointly saved $1000 to buy land.
August 1970. The building at 11 Baldwin was sold and the shop moved to 33 Baldwin. Rent was $300 per month.
November 1970. The group purchased 100-acres for $3600. Ragnarokr paid $2400 from deferred earnings of the four founding partners.
May 1971. The rent on 33 Baldwin increased to $350 per month.
October 1971. The building at Frostpocket has cost $1287. The money came from the shop’s cash drawer.
January 1972. Ragnarokr eliminated its remaining communal features and became a producer’s cooperative. The craftsmen received cash payments based upon 50% of their retail sales. All of the settlers at Frostpocket were members of the cooperative.
February 1973. A new system of paying craftspeople was adopted and Steve Burdick hired to maintain the books. The craftsperson’s labor share dropped to 45% of the retail sales value with the shop paying for supplies, findings, leather, overhead and free rent for those running the shop in Toronto.
1974. The Ragnarokr cooperative had 14 members, some of whom had other employment.
May 1974. The rent at 33 Baldwin Street was increased to $400 per month.
September 1974. Colleen worked as an employee until January 1975 when she applied for pogey (UIC). Philip worked from January 1975 until April 1975 and did the same.
May 1977 The City of Toronto offered Ragnarokr the storefront at 32 Baldwin but the cooperative’s membership declines the offer.
February- December 1977. Colleen worked in the shop as an employee.
November 1977- March 1978. Philip worked in the shop as an employee.
January 1978. The craftsperson’s labor share dropped to 35% of the retail sales price. Ragnarokr offered a rent subsidy of $75 every two weeks to whoever had charge of the shop instead of simply paying their rent. Both changes are a cut in pay.
January- May 1978. Mary worked in the shop as an employee.
May- October 1978. Billy Rauton worked in the shop as an employee.
April 1978. Steve Burdick resigned as bookkeeper when the Federal Sales Tax license is cancelled.
January 1979. Ragnarokr decided against purchasing a storefront in the Beaches.
January 1979- May 1980. The craftsperson’s labor share dropped to 30% of retail sales price.
October 1979- February 1980. Colleen was hired as a trainee with Randy as her instructor in jobs subsidized by Canada Manpower.
December 1979. Rent at 33 Baldwin was $550 per month. The rent subsidy was still $150 per month.
September 1979. Mary Mullins left Ragnarokr for New York City.
February 1980. Randy Rauton left Ragnarokr to work for his father in Atlanta.
May 1980. Philip Mullins left Ragnarokr for Texas.
September 1980. Rent at 33 Baldwin was $600 per month.
October 1980. George and Colleen Mullins left the Frostpocket for Texas.
December 1980. Randy returned to Ragnarokr. He, Bie Engelen and Steve Spring ran the shop. Steve returned to the shop while Randy attended school.
September 1983. Rent at 33 Baldwin was $900 per month.
August 1984. Mary returned to Ragnarokr from New York City. Randy enrolled in the University of Toronto College of Education.
September 1984. Rent at 33 Baldwin was $1000 per month. Steve Spring proposed a partnership between himself and the Ragnarokr cooperative.
September 1985. Rent at 33 Baldwin was $1200 per month.
December 1985. Philip returned to Toronto from Texas.
June 1986. The Ragnarokr cooperative accepted Steve Spring’s proposal and merged his business with that of Ragnarokr. Steve assumed 50% ownership and the others retained 50%. Steve did the bookkeeping tasks.
July 1986. The landlord at 33 Baldwin Street asked Ragnarokr to vacate the premises so it can be sold. A new storefront at 758 Queen Street West was leased for five years and Robbie Gamble gave the shop $15,000 to make the move. Bob Rauton, Chuck Angus and Brit Griffin began renovation of the space.
August 1986. Philip and Morley continued the renovations at 758 Queen. At the end of the month Ragnarokr moved to the new storefront. Mary rented the back room at the new shop, Randy and Kathleen purchased a house and Philip and Rosa leased a house on Henry Street.
November 1986. Ragnarokr staff was Bie Engelen, Mary and Randy Rauton, Rosa Mullins, Steve Spring and Robbie Gamble.
1987 Robbie Gamble gave the shop $5,000 to cover the remaining costs of the move to Queen Street. He and Martha worked at Ragnarokr for the next two to three years.
July 1987. Philip and Rosa left for Texas.
1998. Steve, Mary Bie and Randy worked in the leather shop. Philip Mullins had placed goods on consignment.
1990. Amy Spring began working at Ragnarokr as a co-op student. Mary taught her the trade and she and Mary made hats and bags. Battery belt orders declined.
1991. Mary, Randy, Steve and Robbie Gamble worked at Ragnarokr.
1991. Ragnarokr signed a new lease on 758 Queen Street West with the new owner.
1992. Mary began receiving Social Security payments and gradually stops doing leather work.
1994. When the lease expired, Ragnarokr continued on a year-to-year tenancy.
1994. Mary, Bie, Steve and Amy Spring worked at Ragnarokr.
1993-1995 Errel Oneran was hired by the hour to keep the shop stocked. Several independent craftsmen consigned goods to Ragnarokr. Bie consigned sheepskin garments, Steve made sandals and belts and Mary manned the sales counter. Amy worked part-time making hats and bags and custom orders. She worked full-time during the sandal season (May to September) and during the Christmas season.
December 31, 1996. Ragnarokr had its final sale. The shop’s equipment and tools were either sold or given to the craftspeople. All debts were paid including a $3,000 loan from John and Ann Burdick, friends of the shop who loaned money to help with the expense of moving to Queen Street.
Use this link to return to the narrative, The Shop's Business: Decline of the wholesale trade, 1972-1978