What does it mean to be an Owner?

You’ll Own Your Grocery Store, Along With Your Neighbors! 
Ownership of SLO Food Co-op isn’t a marketing gimmick, it’s an alternative model to conventional capitalism.  If you become an Owner you will literally and legally be an equal Owner of the business, with exactly the same rights, responsibilities, and rewards as every other Owner.  Fundamentally speaking an Owner is an equal participant in a democratically owned business who has 

The right to:

  • Vote in Board of Director Elections - One Owner, One Vote.  No one person has more power in the Co-op than any other-  It’s equality at its purest!

  • Run in Board of Directors Elections - Have your voice in the group that guides the Vision & Ends of our Organization!

  • Vote on Bylaw Changes - It’s not exciting, but it’s important.  This is the document that defines how we’re organized.

The responsibility to:

  • Participate - The Co-op exists for its Owners, and needs participation from its Owners to exist. Being a dedicated shopper, an outspoken advocate, and/or a volunteer of your time in special events, all that’s asked of Owners is to be actively engaged in their store.

The rewards of:

  • Patronage Dividends - On years when the Co-op produces a surplus profit that does not need to be reinvested in the business, the Board of Directors may elect to pay out a dividend to its Ownership, where every Owner will receive a percentage of that surplus, based on how much they shopped at their store.  Equitably, those who shopped more receive more of a dividend.

  • Owner Perks - Detailed in the section ‘Perks from becoming an Owner’, these are the specials and discounts the Co-op offers it’s Owners as a ‘thank you’ for their participation.

A common misconception is that becoming an Owner-Member is subscription based, similar to Costco, where a fee is charged annually and in exchange you can shop their low cost goods.  At the Co-op there are no membership fees, and anyone can shop.  To become an Owner there is a one-time-only cost of $300 for one share of stock in the business, which can be paid in full, or in installments of $25/year until fully paid.  This is not a fee collected by the business, it is equity you’re investing in your Co-op, that is 100% refundable* should you choose to sell your share back to the organization.
*Refunds on Ownership Shares are at the discretion of the Board of Directors-  Though they are nearly always approved, the Board of Directors reserves the right to deny Ownership Refunds if doing so would put the business at financial risk.

Reasons to become an Owner

There are Too Many to List Them All!!!
Whether you want to support our Local Farmers & Producers, or believe in keeping your dollars in The Community, or want to contribute to a more Sustainable & Cooperative World, the reason someone becomes an Owner is personal to them.  But, in general the someone becomes an owner because they believe in something that their Co-op is doing or trying to do, such as:

To help to tackle food waste
Co-op shoppers support the production of fresh, organic veggies, free range meats, pastured dairy, wholesome deli and baked goods; food co-ops make sure as little gets wasted as possible.

To help bring people together
Ownership is empowering and everyone is welcome. Co-op shoppers are investing in a better way of doing business.

To help to nurture community
Co-op Owners support the work of local organizations that are dedicated to making a better world for us all. Co-op Owners are improving local communities nationwide!

To help to grow fair trade business
When you purchase fair trade products, you are contributing to the improvement of people’s lives. Thanks to co-op shopper support, co-ops are one of the best places to find fair trade products in the United States.

To help to support sustainable solutions
Co-op shoppers demonstrate a deep concern for the environment. Co-ops take this commitment seriously and are working together to take on some of today’s biggest challenges. Co-op shoppers are at the center of what makes the co-op difference!

To help grow a healthier environment
Organic agriculture supports the health of our planet. Organic farming methods are more sustainable and have been identified as a key way to slow down climate change.

To help create a robust local economy
When you buy local products, more money stays in your local  community, making it more economically resilient and sustainable. Co-op shoppers are supporting local entrepreneurs and small businesses and are making a difference!

You are the reason food co‑ops are here
When you shop the co-op, you cast a vote for a robust local economy, a vibrant community and a healthy environment.

Perks from becoming Owner

In addition to the altruistic ‘Reasons to become an Owner-Member,’ your Co-op is always looking for ways to say thank you to it’s amazing Owners for participating. 

Owner Appreciation Days
A seasonal celebration of our Owner-Members where everything in the store is 10% off, just for Owners.

Owner Perks Weekends
The first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of every month one full department (Wellness, Frozen Foods, etc.) will be 10% off, just for Owners, on a rotating schedule.

Access to The Buying Club
A throwback to our roots, The Co-op facilitates a Buying Club for its Owners, where they can buy full cases of items from our primary distributor, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), at wholesale prices
Note: The Buying Club is not a ‘sales department’ of the Co-op, simply a program we facilitate for our Owners, and there may be times when items on our shelves are priced lower than UNFI wholesale prices, because of additional deals or discounts the store has negotiated.

Special Events
Periodically the Co-op with host an event, or sponsor an event, and wherever possible we negotiate deals or discounts to pass along to our Owners.

Annual Meeting
Part business, part fun- Once a year the Ownership gets together to hear about the state of the Co-op, financial and otherwise, hold an election for open Board of Director seats, and get to know each other.