Five Fab Facts About Co‑ops

By: Co+op

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, co-ops are community-minded businesses that make the world a better place. Here are five fab reasons to celebrate co-ops:

1. Everyone is welcome

At co-ops, everyone is welcome. You don’t need to be a member to shop at a food co-op.* Although membership is encouraged, and often provides additional rewards, your local co-op is democratically owned and operated, and all customers are welcome. So check out the fresh, delicious food that co-ops have to offer and, if you choose, become a member.

2. The magnificent 8

Cooperative businesses proudly operate with seven internationally recognized principles that 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 choose to adopt them for their business. The food co-ops of National Co+op Grocers have chosen to incorporate an eighth principle:  diversity, equity and inclusion. Cooperatives believe we are stronger when a proactive effort is put forth to engage everyone in governance, management and representation.

3. They support their local communities

One of eight cooperative principles is concern for community, meaning co-ops work toward more sustainable communities through initiatives undertaken by co-op employees and approved by a democratically elected board.

By shopping at a co-op, you might be helping your community with hunger relief, nutrition education, support of local producers or environmental conservation. Learn more about how co-ops contribute to a robust local economy, a vibrant community and a healthy environment.

4. Co-op members are also the owners

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 co-op elections and to reap economic rewards for ownership, often in the form of patronage dividends.

Globally, there are nearly one billion people who are cooperative member-owners. In the United States, there are more than 29,000 co-ops, including — but not limited to — retail food co-ops, like the 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-pubscoffeedairy farmscredit unionselectrichardware stores, crafts, housing and chocolate, to name a few.

5. DOTcoop

Look up to the address bar at the top of your browser. Notice the 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 when you're on .coop you can trust that you're working with a verifiable cooperatively owned business.

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.