Customer Cooperatives

One way that residents of a community can jointly capitalize a new local business is by starting a cooperative, a business that is owned by its member-customers, who provide the necessary capital in the form of member dues, govern the business democratically, and receive a share of any surplus or profits.

Customer-owned cooperatives have been particularly successful in the grocery sector. The U.S. is home to about 300 grocery store cooperatives, which have annual sales of about $1.5 billion. They include stores like The Wedge in Minneapolis and the Davis Food Co-op in Davis, California.


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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.