What is a Coop?

Cooperatives are a tradition nearly as old as America itself. Coops range from small firms to large companies, and they allow people to work together to meet challenges that are too big for them to overcome as individuals.

While coops are like any other business in many respects, they are unique in several important ways:

  • Coops are owned and democratically controlled by their members. They exist to benefit the people who use the coop’s services, rather than to generate profits for outside investors. Coop members elect their board of directors from within the membership.
  • Coops return surplus revenues to members, based on how much business they conduct with the coop. While coops strive to return earnings to member, this can’t be done efficiently on a transaction-by-transaction basis. After the fiscal year is over, a co-op distributes a portion of its earnings to members, based on how much business each patron did with the cooperative during the year.
  • While coops are businesses that must remain profitable, their primarily mission is to serve their members with the services and/or products the members need. Members unite in a coop to access products and services at competitive prices, gain access to markets, enhance their bargaining power, and more.

Click here for our introductory video on cooperatives

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