A food co-op is a locally owned grocery store. Customers purchase a share in the co-op and become member-owners. Customers do not need to be members in order to shop at the co-op. All members have an equal share in how the business operates, and membership is open and voluntary. Members enjoy several benefits and responsibilities as owners of their co-op. Each member has one vote when deciding on co-op business, and may run for a Board of Directors position. Members may also receive special discounts on products, classes, and workshops. In profitable years, members may also receive dividends based on their purchases from the previous year.
Most food co-ops specialize in local, healthy and organic food, produce and personal care items. A co-op is about providing healthy choices, but it’s also about building communities. Co-ops return close to 40% more of their revenue back into the community, as compared to conventional grocery stores.
Food co-ops operate their businesses within the guidelines of the 7 Co-operative Principles. This ensures that the co-op keeps its focus on its members and customers, and the community it serves.