What is a co-op?
A co-op embodies the idea that by working together and pooling our resources, we can provide ourselves and our community with quality goods and services. Durango Natural Foods is part of a national network of co-ops, which are jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprises. A cooperative can be any kind of business or service from natural foods and housing to book stores, credit unions and more. Today, over 100 million Americans participate in co-ops!
The central values of cooperatives are democracy, equality, self-help, responsibility, and solidarity. A co-op is owned and controlled by its membership, with each member being an equal co-owner. In fact, the central principle of cooperatives is member participation and control: members establish policy and elect directors, control the business and provide capital, and typically receive a portion of the net savings left after costs are covered. The one way to benefit from your co-op is to use it – the more you shop, the greater the benefits you’ll receive!
Cooperatives operate according to a set of specific business practices which are guidelines by which co-ops put their values into practice. Durango Natural Foods proudly adheres to the International Cooperative Principles.
International Cooperative Principles
• Voluntary and Open Membership
• Democratic Member Control
Members have the right and responsibility to vote on the co-op’s fundamental directions, policies and representatives to the Board of Directors.
• Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to the capital of the co-op. Surpluses may be allocated as decided by the Board of Directors to the capital development of the co-op and/or to the members based upon patronage.
• Autonomy and Independence
Each cooperative is an autonomous, self-help organization controlled by its members.
• Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members (including staff and volunteers) to enhance their ability to effectively contribute to the development of their co-op.
• Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives assist each other through local, regional, national and international structures. Local democratic control is still maintained in this process.
• Concern for Sustainable Communities
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.
Why Organize as a Cooperative?
Cooperatives provide valuable services and save consumers money. Their primary goal is to meet needs. Cooperatives often provide services to their communities that are not readily available from traditional businesses. Cooperatives enhance competition in the marketplace by providing consumers with an alternative source of products and services. Cooperatives also support the triple bottom line -also known as “people, planet, profit”- which is an expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring organizational success: economic, ecological and social.
What do Cooperatives Provide?
Cooperatives provide many important products and services that a person might need. There are utility cooperatives, credit unions, agricultural cooperatives, electric cooperatives, insurance cooperatives, telephone cooperatives, housing cooperatives, child care cooperatives, health cooperatives and consumer cooperatives like Durango Natural Foods.
Where does Durango Natural Foods Fit in?
DNF is one of the approximately 500 retail food cooperatives found across the country. Some are full-line “supermarkets” and some are small specialty or natural foods stores, but all food cooperatives are committed to consumer education, service, product quality, truth in advertising, and member control.