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And how do they work?

I have seen them mentioned many times. I found one about an hour from here by accident. I discovered it on the Tofutti website. There wasn't a website, just a phone number. I don't want to call until I know a little bit more about how they work.
 

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They're stores. The one you're likely talking about is a grocery co-op.

Here's info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumers%27_Co-operative

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co-op#C...27_cooperative

Consumers' cooperative

Main article: Consumers' Co-operative

The term co-operative also applies to businesses owned by their customers: a Consumers' Co-operative. Employees can also generally become members. Members vote on major decisions, and elect the board of directors from amongst their own number. A well known example in the US is the REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) co-op.
 

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The term usually refers to a community-owned grocery store. I am a member of one. As a member, I am considered a (very miniscule) part owner. I can attend board meetings, voice my opinion on how things are run, and vote both on issues and annually for leaders. It's kind of like a localized corporation where the consumers and vestors are one and the same.

A coop does not have to be a grocery store. It can be any business that is run this way.
 

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Just to add to the above - you don't have to be a member to shop there (at least any of the ones I've had experience with), and it works like any other grocery store. I mention this, because the first time I heard the term I thought you would have to "join" and pay a fee to shop there.
 

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Some co-ops are food co-ops rather than actual stores. These usually consist of a group of people buying food/produce directly from a suppliers and splitting it up to save money, buy locally, or get better produce.
 

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What is a co-operative?

A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. In Australia there are approximately 2,800 cooperatives. The majority of these are in NSW and Victoria and are small organisations providing a variety of human services.

Co-operative Enterprises

Co-operatives are enterprises that put people at the centre of their business (and not capital) and can be defined in terms of three basic interests: ownership, control, and beneficiary. Because co-operatives are owned and democratically-controlled by their members, the decisions taken by co-operatives balance the need for profitability with the needs of their members and the wider interests of the community.

Co-operatives also follow a set of principles and values - The Co-operative Principles. The Co-operative Identity Statement elaborated in 1995 by the ICA is the internationally recognised definition of the co-operatives, its values, and principles.

Types of co-operatives

The co-operative model of enterprise can be applied to any business activity. They exist in traditional economic sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, consumer and financial services, housing, and production (workers' co-operatives). Co-operative activity spans to large number of sectors and activities including education services, child-care, health and social care, funeral, orchestras and philharmonics, schools, sports, tourism, utilities, and transport

The Role of Co-operatives

All over the world, millions of people have chosen the co-operative model of business enterprise to enable them to reach their personal and community development goals. Co-operatives create and maintain employment; they are responsible for producing and supplying safe and quality services to their members, but also to the communities in which they operate. By putting the Co-operative Principles and ethics in practice they promote solidarity, tolerance, and the rights of individuals. Co-operatives are socially conscious, responding to the needs of their members. Through their varied activities, co-operatives are, in many countries, significant social and economic contributors to national economies and social well being.

• Over 800 million people are members of a co-operative worldwide.

• Co-operatives provide 100 million jobs worldwide, 20% more than multinational enterprises.

http://www.coop-bookshop.com.au/book..._is_coop.jhtml
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seusomon View Post

Just to add to the above - you don't have to be a member to shop there (at least any of the ones I've had experience with), and it works like any other grocery store. I mention this, because the first time I heard the term I thought you would have to "join" and pay a fee to shop there.
I know of many co-ops you have to be a member to shop at them. They're generally in and around NYC. Additionally, for some of them you HAVE to work or you can't be a member/shop there.

this is my coop -> www.hwfc.com. It's an open to the public co-op. I'm a member, and work 3 hrs/wk, and for that I get a 26% discount off of anything in the store. They sell a lot of natural foods and locally grown produce and things.
 

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There are many co-ops that are not food shops too. I know there is a vegan co-operative cafe in London and also several bike shops and a wholefoods manufacturer/distributor. The Co-op mentioned by DoveInGrey is part of a larger organisation which also has a bank, funeral service, etc.
 
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