What's a Co-op?

“Co-ops emphasize the connections between growers and buyers, country and city, animal welfare and food quality, farming practices and environmental/health concerns, co-op and members. By joining a co-op, members commit themselves to a business that serves and reinvests in the community, and exists for no other reason.” - Elizabeth Archerd, Wedge Community Co-op News, Nov/Dec 1996.

A co-op is founded and organized voluntarily by people who want goods or services provided to them through a democratically controlled enterprise. It is owned by the people who support the business, use it, and invest equity into it. The member/owners share equally in the control of their cooperative and generally meet once a year at an annual meeting. They elect a board of directors from among themselves and the directors in turn hire management to run the day-to-day affairs of the co-op. Members invest in the business to provide capital for a strong, efficient operation. Any financial surplus from member sales is returned to the co-op members in proportion to their purchases.

At the Belfast Co-op each member has an equal owner's share in the co-op. Since its founding in 1976, the Co-op has relied on the vision, involvement, and support of its members for its success. Members have a say in how the Co-op is run through participation on the Board of Directors, by exercising voting privileges, by working on a committee, or by simply giving input on important issues.

You can't find a more socially responsible investment than your community co-op!

The Seven Co-op Principles

● Voluntary and Open Membership

● Democratic Member Control

● Member Economic Participation

● Autonomy and Independence

● Education, Training, & Information

● Cooperation Among Co-ops

● Concern for Community

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