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December 18th, 2006 at 07:57 am

What Is A Cooperative

Before you can “discuss” the pros & cons of either from any perspective, we need to establish some definitions.

According to the article at Encyclopaedia Brittanica On-Line domain and to quote from that articles’ comments on

>>> Consumer cooperatives, or co-ops, are retail outlets that are owned and operated by consumers for their mutual benefit. The first consumer cooperative store was established in Rochdale, Eng., in 1844, and most co-ops are modeled after the same, original principles. They are based on open consumer membership, equal voting among members, limited customer services, and shared profits among members in the form of rebates generally related to the amounts of their purchases. <<< From those early days have evolved US "versions" like the Harvest Moon group in Boyleston Massachusetts or the legendary Ithaca System of Service Hours & Dollars are open to any individual or family that is interested in buying products in cooperation with other members.

Clearly the standard established in our country, These United States, is that true Co-Ops require the element which gives it its greatest legitimacy is that ALL members MUST contribute MORE than just Dollars.

So how does that differ from the groups, such as The Yahoo Group “yarncoop” recenterly renamed “yarnbuyers” or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/YarnCo-op/ Quite simply, in each these case neither rises to the definition of Co-Op since only a tiny number of folks contribute anything but dollars – although all who participate “benefit”

So allow me to walk out on this limb (hoping there is no one behind me planning to use one of my favorite “home dec” tools,
the Milwaukee Sawzall And call a spade a spade. So far, about 99 out of 100 in the close to 700 hundred “Co-Ops” I have “visited” listed in Yahoo are really Group Buy groups.

Nothing to be ashamed of, just does not sound nearly as altruistic as true Co-Ops.

So let’s decide to call these 2000 groups and their probably many thousands of members what they really are – Group Buyers.


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