Consumer Co-operatives are Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) that are owned and democratically operated by consumers – the people who use or purchase from the enterprise, in accordance with the Statement on the Co-operative Identity.
They provide essential services or products that most individuals require or ‘consume’ and can be categorized accordingly.
Structure & Values
A consumer co-op focuses on meeting the needs of its members and operates within the market system as a form of mutual aid. Some key principles of consumer co-operatives are member control and participation. These members meet periodically to develop policies/ by-laws that decide how the co-operative will operate, although in larger consumer co-ops much of the decision-making is done through the democratically elected board of directors who typically delegate to management.
Most often, Consumer Co-ops operate in 1 of 3 different ways:
- As buying clubs where products and/or services are acquired only when the members place an order
- As service providers where members order the service i.e. internet, cable television, water or natural gas
- As retail stores where members (and non-members) come in to shop