GET TO KNOW THE CO-OP

COOP

Co-ops have been around for a long time. Many co-ops trace their origin back to a food co-op store started in 1844 in the town of Rochdale by 28 workers who were tired of having to buy their goods at high prices that delivered a profit to wealthy shop owners. They opened a shop that would buy goods in bulk to on-sell to their members. The goods were cheaper in the co-op shop because it did not have to pay profit to an “owner”. The members were the owners.

 

Beechworth Food Co-op is your modern day equivalent to this original food co-op. 

 

The Beechworth Food Co-op is not for profit. We sometimes think of a not for profit or community organisation as being a bit like a charity. Co-operatives are a special kind of not for profit. They exist not to pay profits in dollars to their owners, but to provide a service to their members. 

 

This makes you, the members the owners of your co-op. 

 

A really interesting thing about co-ops is that they were the first organisation to allow women to vote. In 1846 Eliza Brierly wanted to join the Rochdale Co-op. In the 1840s women were not allowed to own property. She had her 1 joining fee and the Rochdale rules did not discriminate on gender: every member has one vote. So she was able to become a member, buy her goods from the co-op and vote at their general meetings.

 

Co-operatives work best when members use them and take an interest in how their business is running. By supporting your co-op and understanding what makes it work you are helping it to grow and to serve you better, after all, that is what your co-op is designed to do.

 

Your board of directors have the responsibility to make sur that the co-op is running smoothly and that it is doing what its member-owners need it to do. If you have any questions or want to know more about how your co-op is working then please drop us an email or a note and tell us!

 

If you are interested in the Rochdale Co-op then there is a FAQ page on their website

https://www.rochdalepioneersmuseum.coop/learning-resources/your-questions-answered/#q5

some of the answers will be very familiar to those of you who have been part of the Beechworth Co-op from the beginning.