The International Co-operative Alliance defines a co-operative as:
“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 other words, co-ops are in business to provide what their members want, and they are controlled democratically by their members.
Cooperatives keep economic benefits within the community through creating jobs and, most importantly, supporting local producers and suppliers whenever possible. Profit is not siphoned off by outside interests and profit is never put before the needs of the members. The Co-op’s members are its owners.
There are consumer co-ops (e.g., food, housing, rural electric power, credit unions); producer co-ops (farming, fishing); and worker co-ops (carpenters, mechanics). There are co-ops for day care, health care, farm supplies, insurance, tourism, and more. A primary co-op has human beings for members; a secondary co-op has whole co-ops for members — a co-op of co-ops. An estimated 750 million people in the world are members of one or more co-ops.
Not Just Another Grocery Store
At first glance, shopping at the River City Food Co-op may not seem all that different from shopping at a regular grocery store, but there are several important differences.
- LOCALLY PRODUCED FOOD. The Co-op is dedicated to offering locally produced foods and partnering with local artisan businesses whenever possible. We work with local producers to stock locally grown produce, cheeses, honey, eggs, meats, soaps, and more. Not only does shopping at the Co-op keep your grocery dollars within the local economy, but you are supporting multiple local economic endeavors by supporting the Co-op.
- A VOICE. When you have an idea for a new product, a concern about store practices or any other comment, you can post it on the bulletin board in the store or send us email. These comments and emails influence everything from decisions on how we do business to what products we carry. Additionally, you are encouraged to bring your concerns to our quarterly member meetings. Your ideas matter. Your voice counts.
- ECOLOGICAL CONCERN. The Co-op is always striving to make a lighter impact on the planet. We do this through offering a wide range of bulk products, using recycled bags at the checkout register, offering clean recycled containers to use for your bulk purchases, recycling our cardboard and composting all of our produce waste.
- FAIR PRICES. The Co-op prices its products based on paying a fair price to our producers, a fair wage to our staff, and the Co-op’s fiscal needs. At the Co-op, no one is trying to “make a buck” off you or your family, but instead striving to bring you the best prices possible while keeping the Co-op financially sustainable. Every dollar you spend at the Co-op goes to strengthening the Co-op and sustaining the community.
“Founded on the principles of private initiative, entrepreneurship and self-employment, underpinned by the values of democracy, equality and solidarity, the co-operative movement can help pave the way to a more just and inclusive economic order”
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General