What is a Co-op?

A co-op is a business owned and governed by its customers that operates for their benefit. When people need something they can't get easily or at a reasonable cost, they can start a co-op to get it. Cooperation is a powerful tool to help communities meet local needs.

Co-ops cultivate a sustainable development on a human scale, and provide consumers with housing, health care, day care, elder services, electricity and even banking services (credit unions) as well as food. International co-op principles guide co-op business practices.

Natural food co-ops are a co-op success story. In the 1970s people wanted organic and unprocessed basic foods that were not readily available in grocery stores. They organized co-ops to get these products and built connections with producers and vendors.

Thanks to those efforts we have a thriving organic and natural food industry. Food co-ops are changing the way Americans look at food and farming.

Co-op members have certain rights and responsibilities such as:

  • Electing the board of directors
  • Receiving a copy of the co-op Articles and Bylaws
  • Reviewing reports on financial performance at the annual meeting and in the newsletter
  • Running for the board of directors (unless employed by the co-op)
  • Voting for changes in the articles and bylaws as proposed by the board of directors
  • Attending board meetings
  • Participating in occasional owner surveys

Learn more about cooperatives.