Consumer co-operatives provide members with access to everything from farm produce to housing, energy, telecommunications, childcare, and much more besides. With this in mind, here are 5 consumer co-operatives you should know about.
Michigan State University Housing Co-op
The Michigan State University (MSU) Housing Co-operative (MSU SHC)(1) ( #Michigan State University (MSU) Housing Co-operative (MSU SHC) ) is an autonomous non-profit organization that provides affordable off-campus housing to MSU students. It’s a good example of the important role a co-operative organization can play in helping students to tame the costs of college.
MSU SHC has over 240 members who live in 17 different houses, with each house having between 5 and 29 residents. One of the more interesting things about the organization is that it is affiliated with MSU as a registered student organization, but operates independently from the university. This allows MSU SHC to establish its own rules for membership.
People’s Food Co-op
Located in Portland, Oregon, People’s Food Co-op was originally formed by a group of students in the late 1960s as a food-buying club. People were later reformed as a co-operative, and today it has over 10,000 member-owners.
A membership “share” in the co-op can be purchased for $180.00 and is good for life. All member-owners gain discounts, coupons, and notifications for sales and events. Additionally, member-owners may optionally decide to participate in the hands-on owner program, actively lending a hand in the operation of the store in return for a discount which can reach 15%.
Indiana Credit Union League
Credit unions are a specialized subtype of consumer co-operative, based on the provision of financial services. The Indiana Credit Union League(2) ( #Indiana Credit Union League ) is an association of Indiana’s credit unions, some 215 in all, which between them have over 2.2 million members and $15.4 billion in assets.
The advantages of the League are considerable and include advocacy efforts, consultation, legislative and regulatory support as well as public relations, and much more.
Lost River Market & Deli
Located in Paoli, Indiana, Lost River is a co-operative grocery store which features natural and organic food, and locally-grown produce on a reasonable basis.
Originally opening with 344 member-owners, Lost River(3) ( #Lost River ) now has over 1,000, and there are plenty of additional supporters in the broader area. Indeed, Lost River has become something of a local sensation, drawing in customers from the surrounding six counties.
Another example of the broad application of the co-operative concept is Touchstone Energy(4) ( #Touchstone Energy ), an alliance of over 640 local consumer electric co-operatives. Collectively, these co-operatives reach across 75% of the total landmass of the United States, 46 states in all, making use of more than 2.4 million miles of power lines. Indeed, Touchstone Energy is the nation’s largest electric utility, a testament to the power of co-operative businesses.
Michigan State University (MSU) Housing Co-operative (MSU SHC) website ( http://www.msu.coop/ )
Indiana Credit Union League website ( http://www.icdc.coop/co-ops/types )
Lost River website ( https://www.lostrivermarketanddeli.com/aboutus )
Touchstone Energy website ( https://www.touchstoneenergy.com/ )