What is a co-op?
A CO-OP is a business with a difference! CO-OPs are locally owned and controlled by their members.
Who Owns the co-op?
- Co-ops are locally owned by people just like you.
- Owners, or members, are usually regular shoppers.
- Co-ops are the only businesses where the shoppers own the store.
Who controls the co-op?
- Co-ops are democratically controlled using a system of “one member one vote”.
- “One member one vote” ensures that the co-op acts for the common good and not just for a few individuals.
- Members control the co-op through a locally elected Board of Directors.
- A member can become a Director of the co-op by allowing their name to stand at an annual election.
- Members can also exercise control by attending annual meetings, by proposing or voting on resolutions, or by offering suggestions to co-op management and directors.
- Decisions affecting the co-op are made locally in the best interests of the members and the comunity, and not in remote head offices.
Who can become a member?
- Co-ops have an open membership, so anyone over the age of 16 can become a member.
- Being a co-op member means that you own a share of a business in your community.
How do I become a member?
- To become a member:
- You purchase an initial share in the co-op (this is usually $10, and is a one-time cost; there is no annual membership fee).
- You receive a co-op number.
- Become a Member
Why do I need a co-op number?
- Every time you make a purchase at your co-op, you will be asked for your number, which is used to recorf your purchases.
- Your purchases are recorded because your share of the co-op’s earnings is based on your purchases through the year.
Do you have to be a member to shop at the co-op?
- No, but by being a member you become a part owner of the business and share in the earnings of the co-op.
- You can also attend annual meetings, vote on resolutions and run for a position on the Board of Directors.
What is 'Co-op Equity and Cash Back'?
- Earnings from the co-op are distributed to members based on their purchases during the year.
- Earnings are returned to members either as equity or cash, depending on each co-op’s financial situation.
- The cash portion is paid out to you each year.
- The equity protion is your money that is being held back by the co-op to help finance the business, and maintain and upgrade assests to ensure ongoing success.
When do I get my equity back?
- When you move away from the trading area or
- When you reach 65 or
- When you die the equity is paid to your estate.
Can I use my local co-op number in other communities?
- No. Each co-op is independent and has different policies regarding equity and cash back.
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How is a co-op different from other businesses?
- A Different Purpose.
- The main purpose of a co-op is to provide benefits to members.
- The main purpose of a private or public business is to maximize returns for shareholders.
- A Different Control Structure
- Members of a co-op each own only one share. In a private or public business one or a few shareholders can own all or a majority of shares and may override the wishes of smaller shareholders. This cannot happen in a co-op because each member has only one share and one vote.
- Co-ops are accountable and accessible. Co-ops publish local financial reports and hold local annual meetings to report on operations and answer questions. All co-op personnel, right up to the General Manager and President of the Board of Directors, are accessible to the customers.
- A Different Distribution of Earnings
- In a co-op earnings are distributed to members based on their purchases during the year. In private business earnings are paid to shareholders based on the number of shares held.
How do co-ops contribute to the local community?
- Co-ops are part of the local community.
- Employees live and work in the local community.
- As part of the community, co-ops try to operate in a responsible, quiet and considerate manner.
- Co-ops return their earnins to local members, either in equity or cash. In either case the money stays in the local community. That means shopping at a co-op:
- helps to strengthen the local economy.
- keeps profits at home.
- provides employment and stability for people in the local community.
- Being locally owned and controlled means that co-ops are there to meet the needs of local residents, not outside investors.
- Co-ops believe in giving back to the community and typically support a wide range of charitable and community organizations that contribute to the social, cultural and recreational needs of the community.
- Co-op employees are encouraged to volunteer with local community organizations.
- Each individual co-op has its own way of contributing to the quality of life in its home community.
Is my cash refund taxable?
- A tax of 15% is withheld from refunds exceeding $100.
- If your purchases are for personal use they are not taxable and you can claim back this amount as pre-paid income tax by using box 22 of your T4A and including this amount on line 437 of your income tax return.
- If your purchases are for business purposes the amount of your refund can be included as part of your income tax calculation.
What is the co-op mission?
- Co-ops are dedicated to something more than selling groceries or gas. Their mission, which is much larger, is:
- To give people an opportunity to own and control a business where they shop, and
- To improve the economic position of members within a responsible democratic structure.