Ask The Radish: Cooperative Edition

Throughout the year, we receive questions about our food co-op and ownership. These are some of our most popular ones with answers directly from us.

Q: What is a food co-op? And how are food co-ops different from traditional grocery stores?

A: A food co-op is a grocery store owned by the people who shop there. Unlike corporate grocers, food co-ops are hyper-focused on sourcing from local farmers and producers, and they exist to meet the goals of their shoppers and to keep their wealth in their communities, instead of having it go to a small group of shareholders.

Q: Why is it important to buy local?

A: It’s important because buying locally-produced food means your dollars stay right here in our community. The money you spend at our store is used to pay our local farmers and staff who can then spend those same dollars at other local businesses, instead of having them sent elsewhere to large corporations.

Q: What percentage of co-op sales come from local suppliers?

A: Over 34% of our total sales currently come from local farmers, producers, and makers.

Q: Do you have to be an owner to shop at a food co-op?

A: No! Everyone is welcome to shop at our store regardless of ownership status.

Q: If I become an owner, do I have to work or volunteer at the co-op?

A: No, we are not a worker-owned food co-op, so our owners are not required to work or volunteer at our store.

Q: Do I have to pay an annual fee to become an owner? 

A: No, purchasing an ownership share is a one-time investment.

Q: How much does an ownership share cost?

A: Our current equity level is $100.

Q: Where do the ownership share funds go?

A: With your equity share and patronage, we are able to provide great products and services, as well as social and economic benefits to the community by:

• Buying from local farmers and businesses
• Giving to local non-profit organizations
• Educating and reaching out to the community
• Running an environmentally-friendly business
• Giving through our Hill O’ Beans, Double Dollars, and Fund Our Foodshed Grant programs and much more

Have a question you’d like us to answer? Leave us a note on a comment card available in our front lobby or send an email to Our staff will reply as soon as soon as they can, and you may even see your question here in a future issue of our newsletter.

This article was originally published in the October/November 2020 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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