The "Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities" independent study of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of food co-ops, recently released by the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), quantified what we’ve known in our hearts for years: Our co-ops have great social and economic impact on our local communities—strengthening local food systems, creating quality jobs, and providing healthy and sustainable foods. People are increasingly seeking what local food co-ops offer. Co-ops are poised to serve more members in more communities, and that is our vision of the future.
To support that vision, NCGA is increasing its support of co-op growth in a variety of ways, including:
- creating a development loan fund;
- investing in a national market study to identify high-opportunity markets across the country;
- creating a robust Co-op Assistance Fund;
- developing a new talent-development department;
- building a library of preferred operational practices;
- providing a new store interior design and branding catalog; and
- directing more staff to support strategic co-op business development planning and execution.
NCGA will also expand its support of co-op boards and increase its collaboration with the CDS Consulting Co-op and other like-minded organizations.
Development fuels growth, and that growth fuels more effective purchasing and a broader audience for marketing initiatives, helping us expose more and more consumers to the benefits of the cooperative model.
NCGA member co-ops are strong and well positioned to satisfy the demand in the marketplace for more co-ops. We will continue to get better together, grow together, and stay stronger together!
NCGA Adds New Member Co-ops
On Feb. 1, NCGA announced the addition of new members and new associate co-ops, bringing the association to 134 food co-ops in 36 states, with combined annual sales of more than $1.5 billion.
Keweenaw Co-op—Hancock, Mich. Begun in 1973 as a bulk-buying club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the co-op grew into a full-service grocery store and owns its current building.
Littleton Food Co-op—Littleton, N.H. Littleton Co-op opened in 2009 and offers a diverse product mix to its community and surrounding towns. Annual sales are $8 million.
Willimantic Food Co-op—Willimantic, Conn. Willimantic Food Co-op, formed in the 1970s, moved to its current location near the historic downtown district in 2005. The co-op offers
a full line of grocery items and serves nearly 7,500 members.
Astoria Cooperative—Astoria, Ore. Founded in 1974, Astoria Co-op is the Oregon North Coast’s only full-service organic grocery store; it has 1,500 active members. Astoria first joined NCGA as an associate co-op in 2012.
Mariposa Co-op—Philadelphia, Pa. Mariposa Food Co-op opened 40 years ago. Previously an NCGA associate co-op, Mariposa recently purchased a new building to accommodate its rapid expansion.
New associate co-ops
Hampden Park Co-op—St. Paul, Minn. Hampden Park Co-op has been part of the Twin Cities community since 1973. Among its 2,000 active members are 350 volunteer members. Annual sales are $2.3 million.
Great Basin Community Food Co-op—Reno, Nev. Founded in 2005, Great Basin recently relocated to a store almost six times as large as its original location. It serves 4,000 active members and is the first Nevada co-op to join NCGA.
Natural Harvest—Virginia, Minn. Natural Harvest has operated a storefront in this northern Minnesota community since 1979. The co-op moved to its current location in 1996 and offers a full line of natural and organic foods.