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Meaning and History of Co-ops

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While I was reading Grocery Story, Jon Steinman delves into the history of co-ops and what a co-op, so I think it might be worth going into ehat exactly a co-op is.

What is a Co-operative?

From the video description:
"Co-operatives give people control over things that matter to them. There are nearly 7,000 independent co-operatives working across the economy. They contribute £37 billion to the British economy and are owned by 15 million  people across the country."

In brief, I think of a co-op as a community member owned businesss that follows the \seven principles of cooperation:

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

The 7 Cooperative Principles

From the video description:
"Find out about the 7 principles that guide all cooperatives, including our start-up food co-op, Mad River Market! Aiming to open in 2019 in downtown Winsted, CT, serving the entire Northwest Corner!"

Historically, these principles started originated from the Rochdale Pioneers' Rochdale Principles:

1. Open membership.
2. Democratic control (one man, one vote).
3. Distribution of surplus in proportion to trade.
4. Payment of limited interest on capital.
5. Political and religious neutrality.
6. Cash trading.
7. Promotion of education

The Story of the Rochdale Pioneers

From the video description:
"The Story of the Rochdale Pioneers narrates how a group of people from ordinary working families set up their co-operative underpined by a set of values and principles that keep inspiring people all over the world nowadays."
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Wow.  This is really interesting stuff.

My main grocery store is call The Co-op, but I never understood why it was called that.  We bought a membership and each year they give us a fistful of money based on how much we spent last year.  So much better than these point reward grocery stores.  

Quite often I like a specific local brand of food, like the local-ish milk that comes in glass jars.  I mentioned to the person stocking the shelves in the coop about how much I wish I could buy this milk here instead of going into town.  The next week, they started carrying this milk and gave it half a shelf on the bottom of the cooler.  But they were always sold out, come Wednesday (the milk comes in on Monday).  Now they have a whole cooler section filled with this milk (and it still sells out by Friday because it's so popular).

The co-op is so responsive to customer requests.  If I ask a big grocery store for this kind of milk, they say... "well, we'll have to ask head office, but quite frankly, no one wants to spend an extra $2 per bottle and we don't have the space so don't expect we'll get this in."

The co-op also has these colourful labels next to the price tags that say if something is gluten-free or vegan-friendly so we can see at a glance which foods meet the special dietary needs.

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