Read The Mix

Read the Mix, a bi-monthly publication produced by the co-ops.

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Co-op 101

What is a co-op?

From the outside, many food co-ops look like any grocery store. However, it's what goes on behind the scenes that makes co-ops different.

Co-ops exist to serve their members, which are also the co-op’s owners. So, in addition to getting the food, wellness and home care products you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your co-op makes.

Rather than rewarding outside investors with profits, co-ops return surplus revenue to their members in proportion to their purchases made. This democratic approach to business results in a powerful economic force that benefits the co-op, its members and the communities it serves.

Why Co-ops Matter

Cooperation is defined as working together towards the same end, and joining forces to accomplish a task that can't be achieved alone. Co-ops provide the framework that allows people to get what they want in a way that better meets their economic, social and cultural needs.

Because cooperation builds strong bonds between the people who use products and the people who supply them, co-ops give you the opportunity to get the products and services you need while strengthening the community around you.

In addition to a co-op's commitment to serving its members, most adhere to a set of seven principles to help guide the business. And as a result, many co-ops set a standard for the surrounding business community with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

Co-op Principles

Co-ops are based on the values of self-responsibility, democracy, equality, honesty and social responsibility.

In addition, seven basic principles serve as guidelines to provide a democratic structure for co-ops around the world. While adoption of these principles is not required, most co-ops opt to adopt them for their business.

The seven principles are:

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • Concern for community

Reasons to Join a Co-op

You'll find many reasons to join a co-op, including:

  • Access to fresh, great-tasting local and organic food and wellness products.
  • The ability to be heard. Your co-op truly cares what you think.
  • Becoming part of a values-based organization that puts people ahead of profit.
  • Sharing in the financial success of the organization.
  • Contributing to a thriving local economy.
  • Investing in a locally owned, democratically controlled business.
  • Helping to change the way business is conducted here and around the world.

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