FAQ's

Q: What is a Food Co-op? What does it do?
Q: Can I see the latest business plan?
Q: Other than fresh fruit and vegetables, what will the Arroyo Food Co-op stock?
Q: How many Co-ops are there in the United States? How long have they been operating?
Q: How will the Arroyo Food Co-op be a member of the community?
Q: When will I be able to shop at the Arroyo Food Co-op grocery store?
Q: Where is the Co-op going to be located?
Q: Okay, I want to join the Arroyo Food Co-op! What will it cost and what will I get?
Q: Where can I get a memberships agreement and form?
Q: Why are we selling memberships now, before we have a store?
Q: When will the checks be cashed and how will the money be used?
Q: What will happen to the money in the event that the store never opens?
Q: Given the risk, why should community members purchase memberships now?
Q: Can I see the articles of incorporation?
Q: Can I see the bylaws?
Q: What products will the Co-op stock?


Q: What is a Food Co-op? What does it do?

A: It is a community-owned grocery store. Like all grocery stores anyone can shop in it, but unlike other grocery and club stores, the members are the owners. The member-owners vote on all the major decisions in running the store – either directly through member meetings or indirectly through elected board members. From early decisions like where the store will be located, to later ones like how to spend the profits, the wishes of the members is paramount. They even can run for the board themselves. The other major difference from most other stores is the focus on informing shoppers about local items. For instance, the source of fruits and vegetables will be identified (with map, photo, and/or written blurb), so you can decide if it’s local enough for you.


Q: Can I see the latest business plan?

A: Yes, you can download it here (a ~1 MB pdf file).


Q: Other than fresh fruit and vegetables, what will the Arroyo Food Co-op stock?

A: It will stock many of the same things that other health food stores and grocery stores stock. We will also try to stock as many locally made items as possible – not just fruits and vegetables, but other daily needs. Also when choosing items, the Co-op will favor healthy, low-carbon footprint and fair-trade sources as much as possible.


Q: How many Co-ops are there in the United States? How long have they been operating?

A: It's hard to get an exact count. The National Cooperative Grocers Association is comprised of 111 of the largest food co-ops in the United States, but many food cooperatives do not belong to this organization. If all cooperative types are considered (credit unions, worker co-ops, agricultural co-ops, etc.), the NCGA estimates there are more than 47,000 cooperatives in the United States and every day they serve over 130 million people. Consumer cooperatives go back over 100 years to England where the first successful cooperative started in 1844. Most U.S. food cooperatives seem to date from the 1970s, but some were established back in the Depression era. Eleven new food co-ops opened their doors in 2007; ten in 2008.


Q: How will the Arroyo Food Co-op be a member of the community?

A: We want to build not just a healthy grocery store, but a gathering place in the community with space for events and classes, plus a locally run café and brew pub. We hope to make “See you at the Arroyo Co-op” something people will say very soon. We also hope to encourage and support local businesses that share our values.


Q: When will I be able to shop at the Arroyo Food Co-op grocery store?

A: It depends upon how quickly the community provides support. Our plan is to open our store in 2013, but much will rely on our ability to raise the funds needed to open our doors. There are many ways we will raise the money, such as grants, member loans and bank loans. The first step, though, will be through people in the community becoming member-owners. Without this the Arroyo Food Co-op will not happen.


Q: Where is the Co-op going to be located?

A: The Co-op will be located at 494 N. Wilson (at Villa) in Pasadena, the former George’s Market. The site was chosen—and approved by our membership—based on such aspects as: it’s the right size, it already has grocery equipment in place (which cuts down on the amount of renovation needed), the rent is very reasonable, and it is located near public transportation.


Q: Okay, I want to join the Arroyo Food Co-op! What will it cost and what will I get?

A: The full price of membership is $300. With this you'll get a gift to show the Co-op's appreciation. The first 500 members will get a special "First 500 Friends" certificate. As a member, you'll be able to attend our occasional member-only events. You'll be able to vote, may run for the board and make loans to the co-op. Members may shape the formation of the co-op by participating in committees and task teams. Once the store opens, you'll be eligible for special member-only discounts on certain products and have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped bring this community asset to life. You'll be able to choose from more sustainable, practical and local items than available at other stores. Finally, when we become profitable, the board can decide to distribute some or all of the profit as patronage refunds – you'll get a portion of these distributed profits depending upon how much you've spent at the store.
We realize that $300 is a lot for some people at this time. If that's the case for you, contact us and we'll work out a payment option.


Q: Where can I get a memberships agreement and form?

A: You can download it here. You can type into this document! Just fill it out, print it, add a signature and check, then mail it in.


Q: Why are we selling memberships now, before we have a store?

A: Our plan is to open a consumer cooperative. This type of business is owned by and run for the consumers. Capital is needed to open any business, and the capital for this one will come from us in the form of memberships and later from loans. It would be great if this were enough but most co-ops need more funds than can be raised this way. So we'll probably leverage our capital with loans from outside sources. But it all starts with us purchasing memberships.


Q: When will the checks be cashed and how will the money be used?

A: The checks will be cashed shortly after they're received. Some of the money will be used to publicize and promote the membership drive - we have some fun, low-cost, events in mind. Our initial expenses include incorporation costs and membership brochure printing. The goal is to make the membership drive be as effective as possible while still building our member capital. Our next big milestone will be a special membership meeting in the beginning of May where we'll be deciding whether to start construction this summer. In preparation for this, we'll be paying for accounting services, a market study, more attorney time for our loan materials and other significant expenses. To help offset expenses we'll also apply for grants, but of course they can't be counted on.


Q: What will happen to the money in the event that the store never opens?

A: Our bylaws spell out the details, but basically the members would get an even split, based upon their contribution, of what's remaining after all expenses are paid and external loans (if any) are paid off.


Q: Given the risk, why should community members purchase memberships now?

A: Because your contribution is what will make this happen. Every business startup contains risk, but nothing significant is ever achieved without it. For the price of a few bags of groceries, you'll be helping to start a significant community asset. You'll be part of a fun, smart group that's trying to make things better. You'll be able to participate in special members-only events and invest more in the co-op through loans. Plus you'll be able to take advantage of special Co-op member discounts at local businesses. Maybe best of all, you can become a part of the Founding Team and help with startup events - even run for a director's position at the next election. This way you can help minimize our risk by being a part of the process.

If we want a co-op in our area, we need to vote with our dollars, even if some risk is involved. By having lots of paid members, we get the attention and respect of lending institutions, consultants, vendors, government agents and other members of the community.


Q: Can I see the articles of incorporation?

A: You can download our articles of incorporation here (a 204Kb pdf file).


Q: Can I see the bylaws?

A: You can download our bylaws here (a 152Kb pdf file). These were approved by our board on January 4th, 2010 and revised by membership vote on May 12th, 2012.


Q: What products will the Co-op stock?

A: You can download our Product Sourcing Guidelines here (a 229Kb pdf file). These were approved by our board on March 5th 2011.


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