What's a co-op?

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A co-op is a business that is owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. People organize cooperatives to achieve together what they can't do alone and PCC is a shining example of that unity and cooperation.

Since 1953, Puget Sound residents have joined together through Puget Consumers' Co-op (PCC) to improve the quality and nutrition of foods available. Over the years, PCC has evolved and now stands as a group that aims to educate its members about food and environmental issues, and create a marketplace for organically grown foods. Our Global Ends Policies reflect these goals. We hope you share them and join our other 45,000 members.

Seven Cooperative Principles

Cooperatives world-wide adhere to the spirit of seven guiding principles outlined by the International Cooperative Alliance. These principles, updated in 1995 in Manchester, England, are:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
    Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
  2. Democratic Member Control
    Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
  3. Member Economic Participation
    Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  4. Autonomy and Independence
    Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
  5. Education, Training, and Information
    Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
    Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
  7. Concern for Community
    Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

More about: co-op, election, membership

Related Content

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Did you know?

  • PCC has more than 52,000 members and is directed by a nine person board of trustees.
  • PCC started as a small food-buying club of 15 families in 1953.
  • PCC is the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States.

Learn more