|The Co-op Difference|
Born by community need and kept alive by individual participation, we are a consumer-owned natural foods grocery store that places the values of cooperation and sustainability at the forefront. Our focus is to benefit our owners, support our local growers, participate in our community and protect the environment. We look forward to carrying on that tradition with you.
The foundation of co-ops is based on the principles of cooperation which were created in 1844 by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, the first organized consumer cooperative organization. On September 23, 1995, in Manchester, England, the International Cooperative Alliance, on its centenary, adopted revised Cooperative Principles, relating to our developing role and mission as cooperatives. The SNFC Board of Directors has adopted these expanded principles:
Co-ops are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services without gender, social, racial, political or, religious discrimination.
Co-ops are democratic organizations controlled by their owners, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and Women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-ops owners have equal voting rights (one owner, one vote) and co-ops at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
Owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the co-op. At least part of the capital is usually common property of the co-op. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of ownership. Owners allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the co-op, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefitting owners in proportion to their transactions with the co-op, and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Co-ops are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their owners. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments or raise capital from external sources, they do on terms that ensure democratic control by their owners and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
Co-ops provide education and training for their owners, elected representatives, managers and employees, so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-ops. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
Co-ops serve their owners most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national and international structures.
While focusing on owner needs, co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their owners.
You can own your grocery store! A co-op is owned by the people who use it and operates for the benefit of its owners and community. Consumer cooperatives are very different from privately owned "discount clubs," which charge annual fees in exchange for a discount on purchases. The "club" is not owned or governed by the "members" and the profits of the business go to the investors, not to the members. At the Co-op, instead of a fee, there is an investment. The members own the business and the profits belong to the community.
There are a variety of differences between co-ops and corporations. Co-ops are democratically governed by the owners who elect a Board of Directors that monitors the business, sets goals and hires management to operate it. The main purpose of a co-op is to serve its owners whereas corporations focus on making profits for their investors. A fair share co-op investment has a fixed value, is not traded in the stock market and is invested equally by the owners (one share per owner). Co-op fair share investments stay in the community, providing a financial foundation for the business to thrive and supporting the local economy.