What is a coop?
A food co-op is basically a grocery store that is owned and operated by its members. Most food co-ops try to take a socially responsible approach to the food and products that they sell, offering local and/or organic options where possible alongside cost-effective alternatives. Cost-effectiveness is a key attribute of all food co-ops, with the cooperative principle of working allowing the organization to offer goods at substantially below the prices of all normal grocery stores.
All members invest a small amount of money in the co-op when they join, with this money refundable if they decide to leave at some point in the future. Every member has an equal say in the running of a co-op, and can vote on issues that are relevant to the running of the store and the organization, from food choices through to physical changes to the store.
Many co-ops use member labor in some way. This allows the co-op to significantly reduce its running costs (and pass on the savings to its members) and at the same time encourages a valuable sense of community.
Indeed, all food co-ops aim to be at the very heart of the community in which they exist, and aim to appeal to a diverse population across all demographics. Put simply, food co-ops try to make their local areas a better place, through encouraging a spirit of cooperation and friendship, and active community participation.