The Co-op Difference is Our Greatest Strength

Hello Co-op shoppers! Here’s hoping everyone is having a holiday season of little stress and much warmth and love. This is a busy season for retail, and I find myself reflecting on how happy I am to be able to support a community-owned and socially and environmentally responsible store like FBFC. I can rest assured that each dollar spent in our Co-op will help grow our local community, and that the products I purchase will foster health and wellness in my family and friends.

You see, in a world where profit reigns supreme and in a culture where more is more, the Co-op is an oasis where the bottom line is never just financial. Let’s take a minute and review the Cooperative Principles on which we are founded and reflect on how revolutionary and different this is in what is now becoming the Big Business of natural foods:

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members' Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested. 

4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

If we hold true to these values, the Co-op’s financial success also ensures the health of our community. By supporting FBFC, you also help support initiatives for wellness and education, and organic and family farms here in Asheville and the surrounding areas.

Your Board has been busy brainstorming how to best represent the needs and wants of the owners of our Co-op. One of the best aspects of a cooperative business is that it belongs to EVERYONE, and EVERYONE can have a voice in who we are and what we do. We look forward to hosting some gatherings for food and fellowship soon, and we hope you will join us and share your hopes and dreams for the Co-op.