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Where Ownership Investments Go

We talk about ownership a lot here at the co-op, but we don’t often talk about how the money from initial ownership investments is used.

Because we are owned by our shoppers rather than an individual, anyone can become part-owner of our store with a one-time $100 investment in a Menomonie Market Food Co-op ownership share. In return, owners then get a say in how our business is run by casting their votes in annual board elections, and much of the money that is spent at our store stays in the community and is used to pay local employees, producers, and farmers instead of being sent outside of our community.

There isn’t one specific thing on which ownership investments are spent. The funds are used for tangible items such as allowing us to make more donations as well as intangible items such as expanding our community outreach. This money also allows us the flexibility to bring in new local vendors and support our local farming community in a deeper, more meaningful way. And during our expansion in 2015, our owner investments helped us build the beautiful building that we all shop in today!

There are a few misconceptions about how these investments are used and what is required of owners. To clear those up:

• When we ask if you’d like to invest in an ownership share, we are not doing so because we are financially unstable. Investments are not used for operating expenses.

• You don’t have to volunteer when you invest in an ownership share. That used to be a common requirement at cooperatives but not so much anymore.

• Investment in an ownership share is a one-time payment, not an annual fee. And you remain an owner as long as you’d like.

This article was originally published in the January/February 2021 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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