Cooperative enterprise has revolutionized how companies do business in their communities. Retailer cooperatives focus on the needs of their members — either independent business owners (retailer-owned) or the store’s customers (consumer-owned).
Customers or individual business owners come together in a retail co-op to meet common goals. They focus on how their business can benefit the most people, not turn the most profit. As a result, they serve the needs of their local, regional and even national communities through quality products and customer service.
Key Facts About Retail Co-ops
Retail co-ops put the interests of their members and communities first. Below are a few facts about retailer cooperatives:
- In 1844, the first retailer co-op was founded in England as a new approach to supplying food
- About 50,000 independent business owners are members of retail co-ops
- With 18 million lifelong members, REI is the largest customer-owned retail co-op in the U.S.
- Examples of retail co-ops are REI, Ace Hardware, Carpet One and NAPA Auto Parts.
What Is a Retailer Cooperative?
Like a purchasing cooperative, a retailer-owned cooperative pools the resources of individual store owners in a collective partnership. The local owners serve their communities, participate in the co-op’s decision-making and benefit from the organization’s success.
Individual business owners in a retailer co-op are not part of a top-down franchise. Instead, each member has one vote to influence the co-op’s governance and leadership, under the guidance of the seven cooperative principles.
A consumer-owned retail cooperative is related to a consumer cooperative, but specific to the retail space. Customers are the member-owners of the co-op and have a say in its business operations.
Retail co-ops empower consumers to take ownership of their shopping experience and contribute to a brand with a people-focused mission. For example, REI has millions of members that benefit from its profits through annual dividends and rewards.
Retail cooperatives make people stronger through ownership, agency and a mutually supportive economic model.
Co-op Associations in the Retail Sector
These global organizations advocate for the millions of cooperative enterprises around the world:
- Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide
- Cooperatives for a Better World
- International Co-operative Alliance
NCBA CLUSA Stands With Cooperatives
In a retailer cooperative, people are more important than the bottom line. As a result, retail co-ops offer a competitive alternative in a shifting retail market.
At NCBA CLUSA, we work to strengthen co-ops and catalyze lasting economic growth in communities. For more than a century, our members and partners have helped us improve the lives of individuals and families through the cooperative business model.
For more information, feel free to contact us online.