- Working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit.
- Demonstrating a willingness to cooperate.
- Pertaining to economic cooperation.
- A cooperative business.
- a jointly owned enterprise engaging in the production or distribution of goods or the supplying of services, operated by its members for their mutual benefit, typically organized by consumers or farmers.
(Definition taken from dictionary.com)
In short, a co-op is a business run in an entirely different fashion that your average corporation. In fact, we consider ourselves the alternative to Wall Street!
In addition, we are owned by the community in which we live. We answer to our friends and neighbors. Our member-owners are our shareholders.
We work hard with local producers to strengthen our community and food system. It is our hope to help keep and recirculate dollars here in Fort Collins and in Colorado. And should we have a profit that doesn’t need to go back into to making this place the best it can be? Well, we share it with our member-owners!
The Seven Cooperative Principles
- Voluntary, Open Ownership
Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination. You may shop, you may join, and you may leave the co-op at any time.
- Democratic Owner Control
One Owner, one vote. Your voice will be heard.
- Owner Economic Participation
Owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. The economic benefits of a cooperative operation are returned to the Owners, reinvested in the co-op, or used to provide Owner services. You control the capital.
- Autonomy And Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their Owners. Together, you are autonomous.
- Education, Training And Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for Owners so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation. You can develop yourself into the consumer you want to be.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their Owners most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, regional, national and international structures. You are more successful when you cooperate with others who know how to cooperate.
- Concern For The Community
While focusing on Owner needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their Owners. You can do something for the community even as you keep succeeding.
Learn more about these Seven Cooperative Principles that every co-op in the world(!) follows.
For more information on the history of co-ops (they have been around for a really long time) here are some great references:
- Stronger Together – History of Co-ops
- History of World Cooperative Movement
- A Brief History of the Co-operative Movement