Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is a co-op?
Co-op is short for cooperative and describes a group of people who work together for a mutual benefit. A food co-op may refer to many things, and our co-op is an online market and an actual grocery store started, owned, and run by its member owners. Our co-op is open to everyone, owners and non-owners.
What does the Macomb Food Co-op sell?
The Co-op stocks bulk foods such as grains, beans, spices, and oils as well as local meats, dairy, and produce. We are constantly evolving based on your feedback. We carry fair-trade products like organic coffee and organic chocolate, specialty and ethnic foods, natural health and personal care products.
What does the Co-op need?
See the "How to Help" section below, but then spread the word! We are a small community, but very mighty in what we have to offer -- a shopping experience that's more of a philosophy than a transaction. All too often, people think they have to be a member to shop at the Co-op. Tell everyone you know that this is not true. Help get them through our doors. We hope that we can impress them into becoming a member. From time to time, we will have membership drives and fundraisers to raise capital for the store.
Does the Co-op compete with the Farmer’s Market?
The Co-op and Farmer’s Market enhance and complement each other. The Co-op provides an additional outlet for some of the same producers & vendors at the Farmer’s Market. And when you buy locally-grown strawberries at the Farmer’s Market in June, the Food Co-op will have many of the other organic ingredients you'll need to make the most delicious shortcake possible!
What should member owners/shareholders expect to receive for their investment?
Owners who purchase through the online market receive a 20% savings on produce. Once the Co-op has deep roots, owners and members of their households will receive patronage dividends (e.g. regular discounts and access to special sales). But the major return is psychological: knowing that because of their investment, other area residents will have access to healthy, sustainably-grown food, and that their money is helping foster the development of a market for local producers. Co-ops are not intended to make investors rich, but instead to enrich our lives and our communities.
How is a cooperatively-owned grocery store different from a regular one?
Owners take part in deciding important business matters by voting. Each owner has one vote, regardless of how many shares they own. Five shares is the most any individual may purchase under Illinois law. The money that goes into a grocery store that is owned by our community goes back into our community, rather than into the pockets of corporate heads.
What if the Co-op doesn’t succeed?
As with any kind of business investment, there are risks involved in co-op ownership. When you become an owner, your share/s are subject to risk. It is possible that we may not be successful,and you could lose part or all of your investment. However, the Macomb Food Co-op’s Board and staff are wholeheartedly dedicated to ensuring success and profitability.
How can I help?
So glad you asked!
Volunteer Store Assistants
Our greatest need for volunteers is on Wednesdays, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Volunteers sort the produce and stage the orders for pick-up. When pick-up begins, volunteers greet the customers; assemble and verify their orders; keep the Co-op cleaned, stocked and straightened; and complete any tasks from our volunteer task list. Volunteers sign up for at least one hour, or longer if interested. If you are unavailable to help on a Wednesday evening, we are happy to have volunteers come in to clean and maintain the Co-op at other times. Seasonally, we will request additional volunteers, especially when farmers bring in their harvest and extras, or when we have Thanksgiving turkey pick-up.
If you want to contribute your time and talent to one of our several committees, we could use the enthusiasm and expertise!
- The Events Committee helps organize events at the Co-op or at other locations. We are committed to holding at least one event each month. Some of our past successes have included outdoor markets in the parking lot, small musical concerts at the Co-op, field trips and classes in the Co-op, tabling at outdoor festivals or University activities, and many more. Our two biggest events are the Silent Auction in the winter and the Harvest Party in the fall. We are always looking for people to serve on this committee to help with planning, coming up with new ideas, or providing assistance at the events when they occur.
- Prepared Foods volunteers assist with making our Grab & Go food at a certified kitchen, under the direction of a certified Prepared Foods Manager.
- The Product Research Committee looks for additional products to carry, researches brands to ensure they meet our priorities and principles, performs farm visits to our producers, and so on.
- The Promotional/Advertising committee is for those who have creative skills to do outreach, graphics, speakers bureau, social media, web development, etc.
- The IT Committee oversees the technical behind-the-scenes, computers and other hardware and software.
- The Internal Communications Committee stewards relationships with our owners.
- The Finance Committee is for you number crunchers to keep us on the financial track.
Outreach & Educational Opportunities
We are always looking for people who are interested in educating the public about local and healthy foods, and people who are excited about helping the Co-op and local food industry grow. (Do you like to cook? Create recipes? Speak to groups? Teach classes?)
How can I become an owner?
A share in the Co-op costs $100, payable all at once or in installments. An individual may own up to five shares. Print and fill out the Subscription Agreement and mail it with a check payable to Macomb Food Co-op. Or you can drop it by the store. We also can take your credit card in the store.
How can I become a producer?
Producers must purchase a share to become Co-op owner. Review our Producer Guidelines / Procedures (PDF). Please complete the Producer Application (PDF) and return it to the Co-op at PO Box 802, Macomb, IL 61455 or drop it off at the store, 211 S. McArthur St., Macomb, IL 61455. You may also email it to us.