About the Co-op

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What Is A Coop?

The purpose of a co-op is to create an autonomous organization that is run democratically by its members to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations.

In a nutshell, the main purpose of a co-op is to meet the goals of its members for the community at large. Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, individual responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

Food cooperatives have emerged in major cities and college towns, catering to the food-conscious. A co-op is a member-owned and community-shared business that operates for the mutual benefit of all members and the larger community to which it belongs.

The Sierra Vista Food Co-op is organized as a consumer co-op, meaning that the people who purchase goods and services from the co-op own the co-op. Unlike most businesses that make decisions primarily to maximize profits, the Sierra Vista Food Co-op makes decisions to maximize service to their members and the Sierra Vista community. For the Sierra Vista Food Co-op, service to our community takes the form of providing organic, natural and local produce and products that promote health and well-being.

Membership FAQ

How much does is cost to be a member?

Shares may be purchased currently either by a one-time payment of $200 or eight $25 quarterly payments plus a $10 administrative fee. There are no annual fees.

Can anyone shop there or just members?
YES, anyone can shop here! Membership is completely optional.
What benefits are there to membership?

In addition to being a member-owner of a local business, you benefit from members only sales, specials and discounts. As part-owner, you have the opportunity to affect policy and direction of the co-op.  While there is no guarantee, eventually members should receive annual patronage refunds, which are a portion of the market’s profits returned to the members based on their use of the market. Click here for membership benefits.

Can other members of my household shop and get member discounts and specials?

Yes, members of your residential household can shop at the store and receive member discounts.

Why is there a one-time $200 membership charge instead of an annual or monthly membership fee?
The one-time charge for a share rather than annual or monthly fees reduces long term administrative expenses. For your $200 you receive a share and if you shop at the store and it is profitable, there can be refunds (called patronage refunds) based on profits and the amount you spend at the store. The bylaws cover this in more detail.
How many shares may an individual purchase?

Each member may purchase up to 20 shares!

The 7 Principles That Guide Us

The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

1. Voluntary & Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

In primary, cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

3. Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.


4. Autonomy & Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5. Education, Training & Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6. Cooperation among Co-operatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.