We think co-ops are fabulous. Cooperation is, after all, a word that implies people working together towards the same end, mutually benefitting one another and the larger community. Both economically beneficial and socially responsible, these community-minded businesses make the world a better place—and that’s a beautiful thing. Here are five fab reasons to celebrate co-ops:
1. October is National Co-op Month
The cooperative model is unique. A co-op exists to serve its members, but the members are also the owners. With ownership comes an opportunity to participate in some co-op decision-making and to reap economic rewards for ownership, sometimes in the form of patronage dividends.
Globally, there are nearly one billion people who are cooperative member-owners. And in the United States, there are more than 29,000 co-ops, including—but not limited to—retail food co-ops, like Good Foods and other grocers that are members of NCG, the organization that brings you this website. Beyond your neighborhood food co-op, cooperatives exist in other areas such as brew-pubs, coffee, dairy farms, credit unions, electric, hardware stores, crafts, housing and chocolate to name a few.
2. The magnificent 7
Cooperative businesses proudly operate with seven principles. One of those principles is concern for community, working towards more sustainable communities through initiatives undertaken by management under Ends approved by a democratically elected Board.
Co-ops are positioned to respond directly to community needs and collaborate with other organizations, setting goals that extend beyond financial growth. By shopping at a co-op, you might be helping to support your community with hunger relief, nutrition education or environmental conservation. Steve McQueen would most definitely approve of these magnificent seven principles.
Look up to the top of your browser. Find that familiar address bar and the notice DOTcoop at the end of our URL. As co-op fans, we like to brag about this little badge of honor that demonstrates major credibility. The .coop puts co-ops on par with the web domains like .org, .edu and .gov. Co-ops have their own domain so that when you’re on .coop you can trust that you’re working with a verifiable cooperatively owned business.
4. Employees are some of our favorite people
Beyond offering awesome products and services, cooperatives are committed to the health and happiness of the people that fuel them. So it’s no surprise they treat their hard-working employees right. According to a recent study, the average food co-op earning $10 million per year in revenue provides jobs for 90+ workers. And, on average, 68 percent of those workers are eligible for health insurance, compared to 56 percent of employees at conventional grocers. Food co-op employees also earn an average of nearly $1.00 more per hour than conventional grocery workers when bonuses and profit sharing are taken into account.
5. Everyone is welcome
Are you ready for this final fabulous “did you know” moment? Okay, here it is: at co-ops, everyone is welcome. At food co-ops, you don’t need to be a member to shop or participate* (participation is totally optional, though, and the most common form of participation is voting in co-op board elections). Although membership is encouraged and often provides additional rewards, your local co-op is democratically owned and operated, and all consumers are welcome. So check out the fresh, delicious food that food co-ops have to offer and, if you want, get involved, no matter your capacity for commitment right now. Anyone can go co-op.
These are just five of the many fab facts about co-ops. If you are ready to become a smooth cooperator, find a co-op near you and find out more!
* Park Slope Food Co-op is the exception to this rule for co-ops affiliated with National Co+op Grocers. At Park Slope Food Co-op, being a “working member” is required to participate and shop there. Many co-ops were based on a similar model in the 70’s, but no longer have that requirement.
A wonderful way for Good Foods Co-op owners to participate in National Co-op Month is by taking part in our Owner Town Hall Meeting set for Saturday, October 12 from 2-4 pm in our Community Room. Meet with members of our board, talk about the future of your co-op and ask your questions. Your input helps guide our board of directors in their decisions. If you can’t make the discussion but still would like to reach out to the board, simply email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also take our free tour-based class and learn more about Good Foods at our “Know Your Co-op” class happening October 23.