Consumer cooperatives are businesses which belong to the people who use them. While ownership structure may differ from coop to coop, consumer cooperatives share an impulse to bring more democratic equity to the traditional market system. Through collaboration, stakeholders reap the benefits of shared resources, reduced cost, and membership perks.
America’s first successful co-op was formed by Benjamin Franklin to provide insurance for homes.
Did You Know?
Consumer cooperatives often take the form of retail outlets owned and operated by consumers, such as food co-ops, where members receive consumer discounts and sometimes even a share of the annual surplus. However, consumer coops have been popular in many other industries too, such as hospitality and food, health care, utilities, insurance, and finance (such as credit-unions).
Consumer cooperatives are businesses that belong to the people that use them.
Currently about three million Americans actively participate in over 5,000 food cooperatives.
Food cooperatives are just that -- coops centered around food. They have been pioneers in unit pricing, nutritional labeling and the sale of bulk and natural foods.
Denver boasts many food cooperatives, some of which are actively leveraging their unique position within their community to build out other needed communal programs/resources, such as nutrition and cooking classes, permaculture certification, event hosting, and even entrepreneurial classes / cooperative consultation. The Coop at 1st and Westwood Food Coop each have models that work as a central hub through which connections can be made and new businesses and relationships are formed. Check out these amazing institutions to find out more:
Nursery school and child care cooperatives provide quality care for over half a million families in the United States. These cooperative structures grant parents more control in their child’s education and wellbeing. Some such Frontrange preschool cooperatives include:
These financial institutions offer a wide range of services at prices that are usually lower than those of for-profit competitors. For example, credit unions often charge fewer and lower fees and interest rates than traditional banks.
More importantly, as the Consumer Federation of America points out, "Because credit unions serve the broad middle class, they can meet the needs of an increasing number of underserved communities, including youth, seniors and minorities…. As many banks abandon low-income communities, a growing number of credit unions are finding ways to serve low and moderate income households."