Where will the Co-op be located? Our goal is to be in the town of Maynard, Massachusetts.
When will the store open? How fast we progress will depend on how long it takes to reach our ownership goals, how much volunteer support we get, and how quickly we progress through our site selection process. We completed our market study in June 2015 and we completed our feasibility assessment in October 2016. We are now actively exploring potential sites, and we will need at least 900 owners before we can commit to a location.
What will you sell? Our goal is to be a “village grocery store” where you will be able to do a full grocery shop. We will focus on fresh and healthy foods, but we also plan to stock some nationally recognized brands. We’ll have dairy, bread & cereal, meats, prepared foods, household products, and lots of produce. We’ll have vegan and gluten-free and non-GMO choices, as well as organic and conventional food. We’re not planning to be exclusively organic, but we are planning to sell as much local food and products as we can.
How expensive will the Co-op be? We plan to stock different brands at different price points. So, for example, we might have three brands of milk: The conventional brand would be the cheapest. And milk from a local or regional Dairy would be at the top. And when we bring produce in from local growers, we’ll be able to pay a fair price to the grower and provide a good value for our customers.
Do I have to join to shop at the store? No. Anyone can shop the Co-op! The store will be open to all, but to receive the full benefits of the cooperative, you must be a Member.
Can anyone join? Yes. Membership is open to any individual, 18 years or older, who is willing to accept the benefits and responsibilities of Membership.
If anyone can shop, why should I join? The sooner you join, the sooner we can open! When Members join they are providing part of the capital needed to create the store. Every new Member who joins demonstrates the community’s commitment to the Co-op, and that’s exactly what we need to get started! Members will receive specific benefits – they will receive Patronage Rebates when the Co-op becomes profitable, and they’ll receive Member-only discounts, and Member-only newsletters.
How much does it cost? You become an Member by purchasing an equity share for $200. That share is your investment in the Co-op. It is not an annual fee. Each individual can only buy one equity share, and each share gets one vote in decisions made by Members. You can pay the $200 all at once or over time.
Is there a payment plan? Yes. We offer a $25/month payment plan. If you’d like to discuss other options please contact us at email@example.com.
Will there be a work requirement? No. However, volunteers are always needed. Everyone involved in moving the initiative forward is currently a volunteer and the more active volunteers we have, the more work we can accomplish. Contact us to find out about how you can help – it can be as simple as sharing information via your social media, up to joining a committee or running for a seat on the Board of Directors. There is something for everyone’s skill set and time availability.
Can others in my household shop on my card? Yes. You can authorize individuals that share your household to shop using your Member card. Their purchases will count towards determining your Patronage Rebate. They will not have voting rights.
What is a Patronage Rebate? A Patronage Rebate distributes a portion of the Co-op’s profits to its Members in profitable years. The amount of the rebate is proportional to how much a Member has shopped at the store that year. The more you shop, the bigger the rebate! Since you own a portion of the Co-op, you get to share in the profits.
I’m paying for my equity share in installments. When do I get full benefits? From your first payment, you will have access to Member specials, and you will be able to attend and participate in Members’ meetings. You will not be eligible to vote, nor will you receive a Patronage Rebate until your equity share is paid in full.
Am I able to withdraw my Membership if I move or change my mind? Yes, membership is always voluntary. If you move or decide to withdraw you may sell your equity share back to the Co-op. The timing of return of equity is at the discretion of the Board of Directors.
Can I sell my equity share to another person? Equity shares are not transferable. Only the Co-op can buy it back.
What happens if I join now and the store doesn’t open? Will I get my money back? If the Co-op does not open and the organization is dissolved, its assets will be liquidated. All liabilities and expenses would be paid first. And then Member equity would be returned. Our market and financial feasibility studies show that the Co-op has a high probability of success. But if the Co-op ceases operation before the store opens it is unlikely that all of a Member’s investment would be returned because expenses will have been incurred but no income will have been received.
How many Members will you need? We will need at least 900 Members to commit to a location and secure financing.
Will the Co-op need money in addition to memberships? Yes. The Co-op will also conduct fundraising, seek investments from Members, and borrow money from outside sources. Donations to the Co-op are always appreciated and can be done through this link.
Will the Co-op be a non-profit? No. The Assabet Village Food Co-op is incorporated in Massachusetts as a mercantile cooperative, which is a for-profit enterprise. On the other hand, the Co-op will not be profit-driven. Cooperatives exist to provide a service to their Members. A well run cooperative needs to be able to earn a modest profit. This profit allows the co-op to invest in the growth of the business to better serve its Members, to invest in the community, or to take other action consistent with its mission. The Board of Directors, working with all the Members, determines these actions. Importantly, the ability of a co-op to earn a profit means that the co-op generates economic and other value that is returned to the Members and the community. The profits stay local!
What is the role of the Board of Directors? The Board of Directors is responsible for legal and financial decisions that affect the Co-op. It is elected by the Members at the Co-op annual meeting. The Board will hire and supervise the General Manager, who will run the store.
Where can I ask more questions? We participate in area farmers’ markets and events, hosting an information table where volunteers can answer questions. We also hold information sessions and other events throughout the year where people can speak to us in person. We post these events on our Calendar. You can also reach us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook at facebook.com/AssabetVillageCoop.
Why do I see the terms “Member” and “Owner” used on the website? The IRS Code and Massachusetts General Laws which address co-operative corporations refer to the holders of voting shares in the co-operative as Members; therefore we use the term Member in all of our legal documents. Each Member of a co-op owns a share of that co-op, and so co-ops often use the terms “Owner” and “Member” interchangeably. For all practical purposes they have the same meaning.