By now you may have heard, Rockford is looking into a Grocery Store – more specifically a co-op. Over the weekend, I spoke to a few residents and learned that the PR on this store is already under some scrutiny which I can understand and would like to do my best to address within this blog. The word I am hearing from the “street” currently is “what is a co-op and how does it work”? I would like to talk about some of the myths of co-op’s along with share some thoughts the co-op committee is discussing now for Rockford.
Few Quick Facts:
1. The City of Rockford is not solely starting the co-op – they are supporters and are helping the process but this is NOT a city owned store
2. The big box stores such as Cub, Lunds, Rainbow, Aldi, Corborns, etc., have already been approached – the simple fact is they are not interested in our area at this time based on their specific criteria. So we only have three options; no grocery store, individually owned grocery store by someone or a co-op.
3. The Rockford residents have been polled about what they most want in our city here and the top item has consistently been a grocery store (with overwhelming results).
4. Selling homes in the area, I can say I also here #3 often from both buyers and sellers so the need is here as well as the verbal desire. This is why its being explored and many residents have come forward already with their time to see if we can make it happen.
Co-Op Myths & Realities:
Myth #1. Being a member means I have to join the board or work for free at the store to help it run.
Not true! While co-ops are happy to have members that want to join or participate its not required whatsoever – feel free to just stop in and shop.
The money I pay to join is due every year so its to expensive and not worth it.
Not True! The money you pay is an investment in the co-op, a purchase of shares that makes you part owner. Your investment is complete after you have paid. Should you move or desire to have your equity returned, there is a process to refund your investment. Talk about risk-free!
There are not many cooperatives in the United States
This is a fact. According to USDA report, Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives, there are 29,284 businesses identified as cooperatives. Cooperatives are 1% of the businesses in the U.S economy. Although the number of cooperatives is quite small, these businesses contribute $3 trillion in assets, $500 billion in revenues, 2 million jobs and $25 billion in wages to the economy.
I know all about cooperatives already, they are all organized the same.
This myth is false. All cooperatives are NOT organized similarly. Cooperatives are enterprises that are owned and democratically controlled by their members. The general classes of cooperatives are marketing, worker, consumer and hybrid cooperatives. A marketing (or producer) cooperative is an organization owned and operated by a group of members who produce similar products. A high profile example of a marketing cooperative is Land O’Lakes, the producer of dairy-based food products. A worker cooperative is a cooperative in which workers own the business and make decisions adhering to the principle of one worker, one vote. South Bronx based, Cooperative Home Care Associates is the largest worker owned cooperative in the U.S. A consumer cooperative is a business that belongs to the members who use those goods and/or services. Buying clubs, food cooperatives and credit unions are examples of consumer cooperatives. Hybrid cooperatives are enterprises started for the mutual benefit of their members but may overlap two or more of the general classes of cooperatives. Weaver Street Market in Hillsborough, North Carolina is a cooperative owned by both the consumer members and worker members. Within cooperatives, democratic governance can be organized in many ways. Cooperative management can occur via a flat structure, with no or few hierarchical levels. Other cooperatives choose a hierarchical structure to manage decision making within their cooperatives.
You have to be a hippie/liberal/vegetarian/etc. to shop at a co-op.
Not true! Everyone’s welcome. Liberal or conservative, hippie or yuppie, veggie lover or bacon lover–anyone can shop co-op (that means you!).
I have to be a member to shop at the co-op.
Not true! Everyone is welcome at the co-op. Just do your shopping like you would anywhere else. Once you’ve discovered the benefits of co-op shopping, you might want to find out more about the benefits of membership, too.
As discussed previously, between the extensive area survey and just the word on the street its no secret Rockford residents have long wanted a grocery store in town. Rockford also prides itself on the community and the support we offer our fellow neighbors. We have a lot of great people in this town and local merchants who could be a part of this from local farmers for true, fresh from the farm produce (that is not only safer to eat but better tasting and better for you) to supporters who are ready to really listen and make this a great place to shop for all of us. It’s time to step up and see if what people have said on the surveys is really true. We invite you to come support the co-op, ask questions, post concerns, ideas and opinions so we can strive to make this a win for the Rockford community and near-by area residents.
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