What's a Co-op?

A co-op is a member owned organization that exists for mutual benefit. There are many co-op forms. Agricultural, worker and rural electric are but a few examples. Credit unions are also a form of cooperative.


The history of co-ops goes back into the mid-1800s. During the stress of the industrial revolution a number of attempts were made by the citizens of England to band together to reduce the cost of living. One attempt in Rochdale was very successful. They agreed upon a set of principles that most co-ops still find useful...
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
A resurgence of interest seems to have occurred at other times of societal stress: the great depression of the 1930s and upheavals of the 1970s. More history can be found at...
http://archive.co-op.ac.uk/pioneers.htm
http://www.uwcc.wisc.edu/icic/orgs/ica/pubs/review/vol-88/movement.html
http://www.cdi.coop/historyofcoops.php


Co-ops may be the only type of businesses that try to make sense of Karl Marx...
“From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

...and Adam Smith...
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.”
Co-ops need to turn a profit to exist but operate to benefit their members. Some cooperatives choose to lean a little more toward Karl, others toward Adam. Yet all successful cooperatives find a balance that’s right for their members.

We're interested in forming a consumer food co-op. There are many throughout the country, their sizes vary from little independent groceries to multi-location full-service supermarkets. Here's a map of the National Co-op Grocers Association...
http://www.ncga.coop/member-stores
Our co-op’s exact size and configuration will depend upon the support of the community. The more memberships we get and the more capital we raise will determine how much outside financing we can obtain. The more financing the bigger the store and the count of amenities goes up. See the Our Plan page for more details.


Some cooperative stores start out as buyers clubs, but our community already has one of these. We're not interested in competing against them.
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/nelafoodcoop


At last check the Minneapolis/St. Paul twin cities area, with a population of 3.2 million people, has 11 food co-ops.

In comparison Los Angles County, with a population of 12.9 million, has only one food co-op...
Co-opportunity in Santa Monica
http://www.coopportunity.com/

In the rest of southern California there are only two other food co-ops...
Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Market
http://www.obpeoplesfood.coop/

Isla Vista Food Cooperative
http://www.islavistafood.coop/



We feel that our community can make some history of its own by establishing the fourth Southern California consumer food co-op right here - the first one in more than 30 years!



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