Serving Our Community Since 1980
In 1977 six people started a buying club in Litchfield MN (Kathleen Broughten, Margaret (Wilson) Brown, Katy Drange, Peggy Garding, Mary Plut, and Amber Rousch). A couple years later, the buying club moved into Larry's Barber Shop basement. In 1980 the Natural Food Co-op was formed and opened its first location on Second St. In the early 80's the Co-op moved to Third St and the first manager was hired. There were 30-40 working members at this time. Almost a decade later the co-op moved to Main Street where it is today and had 300 active members and more than 30 working volunteers. Today we have more than 400+ members and celebrated our 35th year! We have come so far and continue growing, and are very proud of all that has been accomplished in the community.
What is a co-op?
By definition, a co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
What makes a co-op unique is that it is owned and democratically governed by its members, the people who use its products or services, or are employed by the business. The purpose of the enterprise it to not to accumulate profit for investors, but to meet the goals and aspirations of its members. For this reason, any surplus generated by a co-op is reinvested in the business or returned to the members based on their use of its services. Membership in the co-op is obtained through the purchase of a member share in the business, which does not change in value (in contrast to publicly traded corporations) and entitles the member to one vote in matters that come before the members.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
1. Voluntary & Open Membership. Co-operatives 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. Co-operatives 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 co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives 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 co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. 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 co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy & Independence. Co-operatives 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 co-operative autonomy.
5. Education, Training & Information. Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Co-operation among Co-operatives. Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community. Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.