What is a co-op?
A co-op is a non-profit organization composed of a group of individuals (or organizations) formed for their mutual benefit, generally financial. (See Wikipedia for more details.)
They typically are democratic, volunteer associations. Being created for a specific public benefit, they are non-profit and return any profits back to the members/owners.
They include credit unions, mutual insurance companies, housing co-ops, rural electric power co-ops, consumer goods co-ops (like REI), distribution coops (like Ace Hardware) and producer co-ops (like Sunkist, Land’O Lakes).
MaineBiz wrote an article comparing Co-Ops to conventional grocery stores. One comparison chart stands out:
Maine has a growing number of co-ops, 158 as of today according to http://maine.find.coop/
and 16 specifically food-based co-ops:
|Barrels Community Market||Waterville||barrelsmarket.com|
|Blue Hill Co-op Community Market & Café||Blue Hill||bluehill.coop|
|Eat Local Eastport Co-op||Eastport||eatlocaleastport.com|
|Fare Share Market||Norway||faresharecoop.org|
|Gardiner Food Co-op||Gardiner||klfi.org/the-gardiner-food-co-op|
|Good Tern Natural Foods Co-op||Rockland||goodtern.com|
|Island Employee Cooperative||Deer Isle, Stonington||burntcove.com|
|Market Street Co-op||Fort Kent||marketstreetcoop.net|
|Marsh River Cooperative||Brooks||marshrivercoop.org|
|Portland Food Co-op||Portland||portlandfood.coop|
|Rising Tide Community Market||Damariscotta||risingtide.coop|
|Rosemont Market & Bakery||Portland||rosemontmarket.com/|
|Royal River Natural Foods||Freeport||rrnf.com/|
|Stone Soup Artisans||Saco||stonesoupartisans.com|
|The County Co-op and Farm Store||Houlton||fb.me/TheCountyCoopandFarmStore|
We here at Make/Grow Local aim to serve all the co-ops in Maine and beyond!
Let us know if any are missing from this list. Updated March 1, 2017