1. What will the Wasatch Cooperative Market be?
Simply put, it's a grocery store! Specifically, the Wasatch Cooperative Market is a member-owned association working to open a grocery store that sells high quality natural, healthy, sustainable foods, goods and merchandise, with an emphasis on foods, goods, and merchandise produced locally, in accordance with our mission and vision. Products sold in the Co-op will reflect our shared goal of a sustainable future for everyone in the community. As a cooperatively owned business the Wasatch Cooperative Market will adhere to the principles and values common to all cooperatives.
2. Why should I become a Member-Owner of the Wasatch Cooperative Market?
There are many reasons one would want to become a Member-Owner in the Co-op. For instance, it allows you to be a stakeholder in a socially responsible, consumer-owned, community-based local business. It will allow you to receive the financial benefits of Member-Ownership (i.e., patronage refunds and/or promotions). You'll be eligible for Member-Owner discount days and sales. Also, your Member-Ownership will help promote sustainable agriculture and help preserve the rural landscape and heritage of our state. Finally, you'll be part of a store that prides itself on responsive and outstanding customer service and its ability to share reliable information with consumers.
3. Will you have to be an owner to shop at the Co-op?
No, everyone will be welcome to shop at the store. However, Member-Owners will enjoy benefits that are not available to non-owners. We will post more information on those specific benefits as we get further along in the process. Check back frequently for more details!
4. How much does it cost to become an owner?
For consumer-owned food co-ops today the cost of an owner unit ranges from $100 to about $400. Based on our assessment of capital needs, we have set the cost of one Class A Member-Owner Unit (i.e. the cost of becoming a member-owner in the Wasatch Cooperative Market) at $300. The Member-Ownership drive has begun so click here to get started.
5. Once I am a Member-Owner, is it possible to cancel my Member-Ownership?
You may dissociate with the Co-op at anytime with written notice to the Co-op; for example, if you are leaving the state, you can no longer belong to the Co-op. However, depending upon the stage of development of the Co-op, you may not be able to redeem your Member-Owner Unit, meaning you may not be able to receive a refund at that time. Proceeds from the purchase of Member-Owner Units will be used to pay for operating the Co-op, including, at this stage of development, feasibility studies and further evaluation of whether the Co-op has reasonable business prospects to generate sufficient revenue to pay for the costs and expenses of operating a business. The Co-op is under no obligation to redeem your Member-Owner Unit unless the Co-op dissolves. If dissolution occurs the Co-op may be unable to redeem your Member-Owner Unit. At no time during the development stage or within 18 months of opening is your Member-Owner Unit or any portion thereof redeemable. Following this time period your Member-Owner Unit will only be redeemable when the Co-op has available capital or when redemption of your Member-Owner Unit will not financially endanger the Co-op. If redemption occurs, the current value of your Member-Owner unit may be established by the Board of Directors at the time of redemption.
6. Who will benefit from the Wasatch Cooperative Market's existence?
Member-Owners will certainly garner the most benefit (see #2). However, the Co-op will also benefit the community at large through access to fresh food, increased economic development, job creation and training, and livable wages. We also hope to create various programs and philanthropic activities as part of our commitment to cooperative values and principles. The Co-op will also be great for local farmers, producers, growers, entrepreneurs and artisans, as we plan to emphasize buying locally whenever possible. Cooperatives have been shown to be tremendously effective small-business incubators!
7. Where will the first store be located?
A marketing and feasibility study is planned to help us determine a good location. As we get closer to the time to conduct that study, we'll need to have some locations in mind. While we have no specific locations at this point, we are generally considering Salt Lake City neighborhoods such as Downtown, the Avenues, the University of Utah area, and Sugar House. Please feel free to suggest additional areas and/or specific locations!
8. Who controls a co-op?
Owners control the direction of the business by electing a Board of Directors and voting on relevant issues. The elected Board will monitor the day-to-day business and operations, set goals and hire initial staff, and ensure the growth and success of the co-op. Ultimately, the Board is accountable to the owners for its decisions. One will need to be an owner in the Co-op to be eligible to serve on the Board of Directors.
9. Will the Wasatch Cooperative Market be a non-profit organization?
No. Although co-ops can be set up as non-profits, The Wasatch Cooperative Market is a for-profit business registered as an LCA (Limited Cooperative Association) under Utah state law. For-profit status allows us to meet a couple of our primary objectives: 1) provide member patronage refunds and 2) provide funding to support activities in the community that are consistent with our mission and vision. For-profit status also allows us the greatest level of flexibility in conducting our business.
10. How can I distinguish a co-op from other organizations?
The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) defines a cooperative as 'an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.' For more on what a co-op is, please see our About Food Co-ops page. Our consumer-owned food co-op will be a grocery market that sells foods, goods and services while adhering to the seven principles of cooperatives. A co-op is not necessarily a charitable organization or a social service agency, though one of the principles of cooperatives is concern for community.
In the Salt Lake City area there are organizations with 'co-op' in their name doing great work providing low cost food items to community members. There are also agricultural and producer cooperatives. None of these operates as a consumer-owned cooperative, jointly-owned and democratically controlled by the consumers. Ours is the first!
11. What motivates people to form a co-op?
Co-ops return financial gains to their owners, whether through patronage refunds, discounts, or promotions. Co-ops keep wealth in the local economy and provide a stable market for local farmers and producers. Co-ops allow people with shared needs and wants to come together to buy certain products, services, markets, or community based activities. Often, the desire to have a voice in the direction of the business and the products that are sold is a motivator. Many also desire to contribute to the local community through community development activities, and to watch their patronage dollars create good things in the community. It's hard work, but in the end the benefits are many!