Members, Do You Know How Cool Your Shares Are?

Get the lowdown on how shares work and why they’re important.

Our co-op works the way all co-ops work: We’re member-owned! Members own the business by owning shares of co-op stock.

Here’s a cool fact: shares are awesome! Shares are the foundation of all the good a co-op brings to a community. Members, we want you to understand your shares, so here’s a brief primer.

Membership

At the heart of how a co-op works is the concept of member-ownership. Simply put, a co-op is a business owned by the people who use it. This is a very different way of doing business. The co-op exists to serve its members and community, rather than to return profits to a single individual or small group of outside investors. 

More than 47,000 cooperatives operate in the U.S., with more than 100 million member-owners. Woot! Thriving co-ops build strong, robust local economies. To quote the late Sid Pobihushchy, a visionary cooperative thinker and activist, “Community good and individual good is linked. Cooperation is the ideal state of society.”

Understanding Shares

Remember, Co-op members invest in their business by purchasing ten shares of Co-op stock at $5.00 each. If you own fewer than ten shares, you are a Subscriber. Once you own ten shares, you are a Member. Two types of shares exist, Class A and Class B.

The first ten shares needed for membership are A shares. A shares are redeemable for full value if you cancel your membership.
 
B shares are issued to members who own at least ten A shares. B shares belong to all members collectively and provide the cooperative with working capital.
 
B share stock is important stuff. Any business owner who makes a profit should invest some of those profits back into the business, and that’s what B shares are for. Thanks to B shares, your co-op can purchase new equipment, replace high-cost items, and make capital improvements like remodels. Basically B shares are the way members can increase their co-op’s overall value to other members and shoppers.
 
Co-op Principle Three—Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. 

Learn More

Have questions or comments? We’d love to talk with you! Email comment@coopfoodstore.com.
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Ken Davis

Ken Davis

Ken is a writer in the Co-op Outreach Department. Email him at kdavis@coopfoodstore.com.
Ken Davis

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