What is a Consumer Cooperative and What Are the Advantages?

Consumer grocery coop in Ohio, consumer coop legal assistance

A consumer cooperative is an enterprise that is owned by its members who derive benefits from being a member.  Consumer coops may offer products or services, and this coop model can be utilized in Ohio by a wide range of business sectors.  Often consumer coops start to fill a need within a community. 

For example, neighbors in Fairport Harbor, Ohio could come together to form a cooperative grocery store because they do not have easy access to a store with quality produce and other grocery items.  The grocery coop would offer neighbors the option to become member-owners of the coop.  But different from a corporate model, the coop does not have focus on profits to shareholders.  Instead, the coop can focus on buying quality food at low prices and pass the savings to its members.  While non-members may also be allowed to shop at coop store, only member-owners will receive the additional membership benefits.  The benefits of membership could be discounts, as well as some portion of dividends at the end of the year based on how much the member utilized their membership.  However, most of the profits in a consumer cooperative are retained by the coop and normally invested back into the organization to sustain and grow it. 

What Are the Benefits of an Ohio Enterprise Forming as a Consumer Cooperative?

Here is a summary of some of the potential advantages to a coop model if you are forming a business or organization in Ohio:

Better prices:  Consumers typically purchase at retail prices, but consumer coops are able to buy in bulk and directly from suppliers, thus avoiding the middlemen, and then pass the saving on to its members in the form of reasonable prices.

Better quality and choice:  A consumer coop can choose what products to sell and thus can opt for better quality items and items that its members want. 

Regular supply:  Whether the coop offers goods or services, it can do so consistently and regularly based on the needs and demand of the members. 

Builds positive social exchange:  Consumer coops bring together people in their communities with shared or similar values.  These lend themselves to places where positive social relationships develop.  

Increased Savings to Members:  Dividends of consumer coops are paid based on the quantity of goods or services utilized by members.  So, the more members use their memberships, the greater their dividends. 

Good for Communities:  The consumer cooperative culture offers a way to pool resources and facilitate conscientious enterprises that meet the needs of those living in a community.

Note that the consumer cooperative model is used by many different types of business and organizations in Ohio including daycares, credit unions, electricity distribution, and sports facilities.  Here are some examples of consumer coops in Ohio: Mentor Co-operative Preschool, Gem City Market, REI, and Paradiso Climbing.