Cooperation has been around in the form of shared work since the beginning of shared communities. More formal cooperatives began as a means to share labor and resources. Today cooperatives exist in the form of consumer coops (food, housing, health care, and financial services), producer coops (agricultural services or item processing and marketing), and worker coops.
All cooperatives are member owned, member governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their members according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In coops, members pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone. Most simply put, a cooperative is a business:
● voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and
● operated for the benefit of its members.
Today co-ops around the world including ours, are guided by seven principles. These principles help us remember who we are, what we are trying to do, and how we’ve agreed to do it.
1. VOLUNTARY AND OPEN MEMBERSHIP
2. DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL
3. MEMBER ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
4. AUTONOMY AND INDEPENDENCE
5. EDUCATION, TRAINING AND INFORMATION
6. COOPERATION AMONG COOPERATIVES
7. CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY
3 Rivers Coop Natural Grocery & Deli
founded in 1976 as a consumer coop, has used these seven principles as the foundation for the policy creation and movement that has taken us from a small storefront on Broadway to a full service natural foods and wellness store and deli on Sherman Boulevard. Our store is part of National Co+op Grocers (NCG), a cooperative of 143 food coops in 38 states that brings together consumers as memberowners who invest in coop shares, patronize the store, and elect a board of directors to hire, guide, and evaluate a general manager who oversees day today operations and implements policy.