Cultivate Your Community

Restoring Trust and Vibrancy in a Co-op Community

Central Co-op Seattle, WA Year founded: 1978 Number of members: 14,200 Consumer member investment: $100 Worker member investment: $6,340 (12 years) Number of employees: 120 Locations: Seattle and Tacoma (opening date late spring TBD) When the Central Co-op in Seattle, Wash. proposed a vote to merge with the Tacoma Food Co-op in 2015, the memberships of both co-ops overwhelmingly approved it. Both communities saw [...]

Expanding the Boundaries of Retailing in Local Communities

Contemporary food co-ops have begun important discussions in their organizations around equity and inclusion. As part of that process, they’ve had to accept and deal with some painful truths that their co-ops have not always been perceived as inclusive, especially through the shopping experience. Food co-op customers in particular are often skewed toward a certain demographic—white, educated, affluent people. Outreach to those who are [...]

Unity: The New Co-op Mission

The founding vision for Outpost was to be a "safe-haven for people who felt like they weren't included" and Mehnert contends that that mission is truer today than ever. Drawing comparisons to the social rebellions of the 60s and 70s that birthed many of our modern Co-ops, Pam Mehnert General Manager at Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee, WI, examines the conditions that our co-ops [...]

Who Is Helping Who?

In his role as Executive Director of a Non-Profit Young Kim, Board President at Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee, WI explores implicit biases that we may bring with us while reaching out to "aid" communities of various ethnic and class distinctions. His is a cautionary tale that warns against bringing in our own preconceptions and baggage while at the same time attempting to erode [...]

Deepening the Work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By LaDonna Sanders–Redmond Seward Community Co-op (Minneapolis, Minn.) began its equity work in the fall of 2013. Seward’s second store, Friendship, and its first restaurant/commissary production facility, the Creamery Café, both opened in 2015. Building the Friendship Store in an historically African-American community required taking a closer look at the co-op’s commitment to equitable relationships as stated in the Seward ends statement. Taking a deep [...]

Using Marketing to Build Success: Making Cooperative Ownership and Governance Real

By Rebecca Torpie, Thane Joyal 196 May-June 2018  What does it mean to be an owner of a consumer cooperative? At the most fundamental level, cooperative ownership means that we are in business together. And for the owners of a cooperative that is under substantial market pressure (and what business isn’t?), everything the business does needs to match the needs and aspirations of the community that [...]

Introducing Your Co-op to New Communities

Business introductions are a networking staple—and they run the gamut from the ho-hum ‘We are here to sell you something’ to the dynamic, ‘We love to support communities and make a difference in people’s lives.’ As co-ops continue to seek out ways to innovate, offer more goods and services, and reach out to new communities, it is worth the investment of time and resources [...]

Customers – The Heart of the Co-op

Essential viewing for any cooperator wanting to stay on top of the latest efforts being made by National Co+op Grocers (NCG) to drive the food co-op sector forward with strength and sustainability.  Dave Olson, Co-op Development Director with NCG, shares the 2018 vision, which focuses on being great grocers, and focusing intently on not just customer service, but the Customer Experience.  Watch at an [...]

Sustaining a Thriving Community for Over 70+ Years

Putney Food Co-op Putney, VT Year founded: 1941 Member investment: $75 Number of members: 1,700 Number of employees: 40 Retail square feet: 2,800 The Putney Food Co-op in Putney, Vermont has long been an example of how to serve a small community well with a small store. What it lacks in square footage, it has made up for in exemplary customer service and well-curated [...]

Inclusion: Starting from the Store

You can't have a conversation about inclusion without first expanding the circle and inviting everyone to the table. Prasanna Regmi, General Manager at Davis Food Co-op in Davis, CA talks about the work being done at Davis starting with the core of the co-op network, the store.