Co-op Sectors

Retail Co-ops

Retail Co-ops

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:

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.

We invite you to become a member of NCBA CLUSA and contribute to our goals in advocacy and education.

For more information, feel free to contact us online.

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