Become an Owner

As an owner of the Co-op, you are part of a locally owned and operated business. Your investment gives the Co-op the capital necessary for building maintenance, equipment purchases, inventory, and operating expenses. You make a difference in the community by keeping our store locally and democratically controlled. Your Co-op ownership gives you the opportunity to participate in business affairs, such as electing members of the Board of Directors, joining Co-op committees, or volunteering for events.

Ownership Benefits

  • 10% off all books, health and body care supplies, and supplements on Wellness Wednesday which is every second Wednesday of each month.
  • 10% off coupons that can be used by each owner household four times per year.
  • 10% discounts on special order cases, with a small number of product exclusions.
  • 20% off special orders totaling $500 or more, with a small number of exclusions.
  • A quarterlynewsletter, The Grapevine, distributed via e-mail or U.S. Postal Service.
  • A weekly e-mail newsletter with breaking store specials and updates.
  • Current owners are eligible for patronage rebates, based on the Co-op’s profitability and the discretion of the Board of Directors.

 

Cost of ownership

Fully vested owners purchase a $150 share in the Chequamegon Food Co-op. A payment plan may be used, where a minimum payment of $25 per year is paid in until the $150 fully vested amount is reached. Once you become fully vested no additional payments are necessary unless otherwise decided by the Board of Directors.

Please visit the Co-op to pick up an ownership application.

 

Patronage Refund

The patronage refund is one of the strongest economic links between the Co-op and its owners, whereby the owners share in the financial health of the Co-op. You can think of your patronage refund as a deferred or retroactive price reduction on everything you bought at the store last fiscal year.

The patronage refund constitutes a return on investment for owning your community grocery store. Your refund is proportionate to your purchases – the more you spent the greater your refund. This equitable method of surplus income distribution distinguishes cooperatives from other types of corporations that distribute profit based on investment (the more you invest, the greater your return). A patronage refund is considered by the Internal Revenue Service to be a refund on purchases of personal items, so it is not taxable income. (Businesses, please consult your tax advisor regarding your patronage refund.)

For example, in the fiscal year 2011, the Co-op’s profit was $76,000. Sales to owners accounted for 80.4% of the total store sales. Therefore, per the Board of Directors, of the $61,104 in-store income from owner sales available for patronage refunds, the Co-op is distributing 20% ($12,221) to owners. The remaining 80% ($48,883) is retained equity kept in each owner’s name. This is non-voting equity which carries no additional rights or benefits.

In 2012, we moved to electronic distribution of refunds. The refunded amount is applied to your owner account and it can be used at the register as credit towards store purchases during the 90 days allotted for refund distribution.

 

Ownership Q&A

Q: Why should I join the Chequamegon Food Co-op?

A: When you join the Chequamegon Food Co-op you become part of a business that is committed to providing our community with healthy and locally produced goods. Besides the many shopping benefits, as an owner of the Chequamegon Food Co-op you invest in community and become a part of the Co-op family. For every $1,000 you spend at the food co-op, $1,604 dollars in economic activity is generated in our local economy – $239 more than if you had spent that same $1,000 at a conventional grocer.* Your investment shows support for local farmers, area artisans, a thriving local economy, and a knowledgeable, healthy community. From a financial aspect, it takes less than one year to earn back your fully vested ownership share through the discounts, sales, and rebates you receive as an active member-owner.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a owner of the Chequamegon Food Co-op?

A: Owner benefits include: 10% off all books, health and body care supplies, and supplements every second Wednesday of each month; 10% off coupons that can be used by each owner household four times per year; 10% discounts on special order cases (with some exclusions); 20% off special orders totaling $500 or more(with some exclusions); a quarterly member newsletter, The Grapevine, distributed via e-mail or U.S. Postal Service; a weekly e-mail newsletter with breaking store specials and updates; and patronage rebates for eligible owners based on the Co-op’s profitability and at the discretion of the Board of Directors. Other benefits include: ownership of a community-supported business; voting rights at annual meetings; eligibility for the board of directors; and pride in supporting the co-operative, collaborative business model.

Q: How do I become an owner of the Chequamegon Food Co-op?

A: Joining is easy! Ownership applications are available at the registers and will only take a brief moment to fill out. Return your completed application to your cashier with your membership payment and your benefits will start right away! Fully vested members invest $150 in the Chequamegon Food Co-op. You can use a payment plan, where a minimum payment of $25 per year is paid in until the $150 fully vested amount is reached. Once you become fully vested no additional payments are necessary, unless otherwise decided by the Board of Directors.

Q: How is the Chequamegon Food Co-op different from other grocery stores?

As a cooperative, Chequamegon Food Co-op is community-owned while conventional grocery stores are privately owned or publicly traded companies. Like other food co-ops, the Chequamegon Food Co-op specializes in local, natural, and organic foods. While the average conventional grocery store sources slightly less than 6% of its food purchases from local sources, the average co-op purchases almost 20% of its products from local sources.* Unlike conventional grocery stores, the Chequamegon Food Co-op also engages the community beyond the store walls through classes and other outreach events.

*NCGA (2012). Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities: The Social and Economic Impact of Food Co-ops