You've probably heard about the food coops, but did you know that Ann Arbor also has a car coop?
Coop Auto of Washtenaw, located at 2232 S. Industrial, is a consumer's co-operative which offers a variety of programs aimed at car maintenance and repair. This includes a regular auto repair service, a U Do It garage rental, and workshops on car care mechanics.
The Coop began with a capital investment by a management group, Consumers Systems, which was succeeded by the current owners, Consumers Auto. These management groups set up the mechanism whereby the coop members could take over control and management, and the coop is steadily moving away from the management groups. Control is divided into two sections: the consumers coop in which members establish pricing policy for parts and services through the membership advisory committee; and the employee coop, in which the workers perform functionally as the organizers, advisors and implementers of coop programs.
Monday through Friday, Coop Auto is primarily an auto repair shop, except that the employees are in charge and enjoy their work. The employees have set up a pay scale based on entire shop production.
On Saturday and Sunday, however, the mechanics have implemented a U Do It program. For a low fee, you can rent a clean, dry, heated service bay, some hand tools, test equipment, floor jacks and jack stands, air hose, lights, exhaust ducting, lights, workbench with vise, roller creeper and/or grinder--a complete, professionally equipped garage. And in case you're worried about your abilities, an experienced mechanic is there to answer your questions or show you how. Basic parts and fluid are stocked and can be bought while you work.
If you want to learn more about repairing your own car, the mechanics have organized a series of workshops, from basic car maintenance for the novice to engine rebuilding. If a course isn't offered, the Coop will set one up if there are five or six people interested in it.
A $50 deposit gets you a membership in Coop Auto, and a 10-20% discount on prices for parts, rents and services. Although you don't have to be a member to take advantage of the services, the money helps provide operating capital for the coop. If you consider that in this economy, you vote with your dollars, vote for a coop. It's good politics, good karma and good sense.