Co-op Member-Owner & Volunteer Shares His Two (Local) Cents

By Rich Grogan, Antioch University New England

As you might have heard, we are going to be opening a food co-op in Keene just 14 months from now, called The Monadnock Community Market Co-op. This fully stocked food store is more than just a retail destination for Monadnock Region residents, it will bring people into the store for educational events, and will be staffed by local employees who are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about what it is we are offering.

So you might want to know: what is a co-op?

A co-op can apply to many types of businesses, including energy cooperatives and, in this case, food cooperatives. A co-op is member-owned. Imagine owning a business together, with 999 other community members. What that means is a limited initial investment – a one-time $200 investment, instead of the much larger amount it would take to open up your own store.

What you get in return is, among other things, the ability to participate in the decision making process in a meaningful way. Those of us who have a typical mutual fund “own” parts of companies, but we really don’t have much of a voice in their operations. By contrast, co-op owners (you!) are asked to participate in conversations about what events to offer, what items to stock, and other co-op decisions that need to be made by the Board of Directors and Co-op Staff.

Plus, you are an owner, so when we do well, you do well – profits go into making the store even better, and there is the possibility of a dividend for owners.

We are so used to walking into large chain stores, to which we have no input regarding design or what they stock. We are forced to take what we are given. Not so here – you are buying a share of something great, and something you help to make even greater.