Co-ops aren’t owned by a single individual or speculative investors. We’re based on shared ownership by people who have a personal stake in the business and its impact: Consumers who own the store they buy from, workers who own the business they work for, farmers who own the company that gets their products to market, or a combination of stakeholders.
Co-ops are a powerful economic alternative, one that acknowledges our inter-connectedness and leverages our shared resources.
Our co-op is connected to other co-ops through regional, national and international associations. Regionally, Neighboring Food Co-op Association is a wealth of information as well as support for our local food co-ops. Our National Co-operative Grocers association provides operational resources as well as member and shopper resources with the co+op stronger together website.
Co-ops put their members’ needs and values into action.
While co-ops are for-profit, we’re not just here to make money. We operate to serve our members, and we follow cooperative values and principles. As envisioned by the Rochdale Pioneers, who spearheaded the modern cooperative movement, co-ops should embody the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Co-ops also follow the internationally-recognized Cooperative Principles.
- Get a global perspective on co-ops from the International Cooperative Alliance.
Cooperation is a powerful and timeless tool.
Humans have been practicing cooperative economics since the dawn of time–you could say it’s in our DNA. Cooperation helps communities meet local needs and have more control over their resources, like food, healthcare, housing, equipment, access to markets, and their own labor. Co-op members save resources by pooling theirs with others, sharing costs and distributing profits back to the co-op or to the members, and their voices are an essential part of the co-op’s decision-making process.
Food co-ops make important contributions to the health and wealth of our communities.
Compared to other grocers, we spend more on wages and benefits, contribute more to community organizations, stock more organic, people- and earth-friendly foods and products, and source from more local producers. We also contibute more to the local tax base than out-of-state chains.
Food For Change Film
In 2012, UN Declared International Year of the Co-op, Food For Change, a documentary film focusing on food co-ops as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture was in the works.
The project began when award-winning filmmaker and co-op member Steve Alves was asked to make a film for our co-op. Franklin Community Co-op’s history as well as the history of food co-ops across the U.S. is explored. In Alves’ research he uncovered historical films and stories about the increase of cooperatives during the Great Depression and how food co-ops re-emerged during the tumultuous events of the 1960s as an alternative to factory farms and corporate grocery chains.
Food For Change premiered in St. Paul at the Fitzgerald Theater and simulcast showings across the country. A packed house of co-op members cheered as we celebrated our local debut at the Greenfield Garden Cinema, October 2013.
On the occasion of Central Co-op’s (Seattle & Tacoma, Washington) 35th anniversary (October 2014), Food For Change was shown and a discussion panel talked about what’s so special about cooperatives, the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade, and possibilities for a cooperative future. The recorded discussion is here:
International Cooperative Alliance provides information about co-operatives worldwide.
University of Wisconsin Center For Cooperatives is an interdisciplinary center that combines the resources of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin Extension to foster critical thinking and understanding about cooperatives.
Cooperative Grocer Online List of Food Cooperatives. The web site for the magazine Cooperative Grocer has a list of food co-ops in North America.
Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives (VAWC) information and support about worker co-ops in our valley. You can also read: Building Co-operative Power: Stories & Strategies from Worker Co-operatives in the Connecticut River Valley, published by Levellers Press, Amherst and for sale at Green Fields Market. This book also covers our co-op’s connection with local worker co-ops.