A co-op is a community-owned and democratically-governed business – in our case, a full-service grocery store. We’re working together for better food, stronger farms and communities, transparent growing practices, and a healthier world. Although anyone can shop at the Co-op, Owners receive great benefits and have a say in how the business is run.
Co-ops are also committed to ethical business practices, to sustainability, and in the case of a food co-op, to providing fresh, locally grown food. They serve as centers for the community, and they are committed to making an impact – economically, socially, and environmentally – in the communities they serve.
Picture a trip to the Assabet Village Co-op Market, your community owned grocery store. On your way in the door, you bump into Jeanne, the 43-year-old cashier and single mother of two. She’s seen you before – asked your name when you came in last week. And she greets you and smiles, relieved now that she has a living wage job with benefits at a community grocery store that, like you, she owns.
You head to the produce aisle to check out this week’s local farms lineup. The layout includes 30 local farms, each with a photo of your farmer, his or her family farm story, and the farm’s growing practices. There are organic and inorganic options – broccoli, beets, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, kohlrabi, purple carrots – all fresh picked and bundled yesterday afternoon. And recipes for making those brussels into a kid-worthy side.
And while you do like to eat local and organic, you still buy conventional milk, pancake mix, cookies, frozen pizzas, and prepared foods for those lazy Friday nights. Good thing your Co-op has has these items, too. The kids still have their favorites, and we’re all on a budget, after all.
On your way to the bakery and local cheese section, you stop to sample the latest hard cider from the orchard where you take your kids for hayrides. Two of your neighbors, Paul and Stephanie, are chatting in the huge bulk foods aisle as they pull the levers for fresh spices, teas, nuts, oats, and dried fruit. They wave to you and call you over – another conversation that goes way too long but is, after all, why you shop here.
The bakery, prepared foods section, and deli and cafe are bustling with smiling families. It’s crazy for a Saturday morning, and then you see why. A local chef is prepping for this morning’s kids’ cooking class. The wall flier advertises other upcoming classes: a mushroom foraging trip, wild game BBQ, a talk by your favorite cookbook author, senior cooking on a budget (perfect for mom and dad).
On your way to the checkout, you remember that the house is almost out of toilet paper and dishwasher tabs, so you hit up the extensive household items aisle. It’s so nice to not have to bounce from store to store for the items you need.
In the checkout line, you notice your neighbor Bruce’s artwork on the wall. The cashier asks if you’d like to round your purchase to the nearest dollar and donate the balance to your favorite charity. “Sure – how about the VA?” As she swipes your Owner card, you’re excited to see that end-of-the-year Co-op balance. The store has been thriving and profitable (a big help other local businesses, too), so you know you’ll be getting an Owner dividend in a few months. The next Owner Discount Day is also coming up – almost time to stock up!
Before you head to the parking lot, you stop the General Manager, Terry, to see if she would mind getting some goat’s milk cheese from that new farm in Bolton. “I’ll call them today and try to get a shipment for next week,” she says.
And then it hits you. This is YOUR community owned grocery store – YOUR community. Shopping here is an experience, and Owning a store that supports local farms, increases access to healthy food, and cares about the community it serves is exactly why you became an Owner in the first place.
This is our vision. It’s happening right here in Metro West Boston. And the sooner you join, the sooner we open the doors to your Co-op.