I was disappointed today to find that our nearest large Co-op supermarket is closing. On the plus side our local (smaller) Somerfield is slowly morphing into a Co-op.
Why do I like the Co-op? Although they have all the semblance of being a standard major chain they seem to be me to be genuinely different. First they are owned by their members, all members be they shoppers or a senior manager have one one pound share in the company. If you’re a member you get your reward on the basis of how much you’ve spent and the reward is money – simple and straightforward. No bonus rewards for behaving how the company want you to behave, or restrictions on what you do with your rewards. Its very simple, if you shop there the company you own does well and you get rewarded on the basis of how much you’ve used the company.
The members get to vote on the company’s ethical policy, they can have more of a say if they want, voting members on to local boards and the like. They’re not Johnny-come-lately’s on ethics in fact they were the first supermarket to embrace fairtrade; when I was a strict veggie back in the 80s it was only Co-op that I could rely on for products that weren’t tested on animals. They’re proactive in encouraging community based cooperative projects like credit unions and they have one of their own. They even have a political party dedicated to promoting that kind of stuff (I know, I was a member some time ago). Now all of this is genuinely radical – even more so for Britain’s biggest farmer!
Foodwise you can rely on Coop goods to be largely fair trade and often grown by their own farmers.
You’ll have to forgive me if I sound biased, its just that I own the company. Maybe not all of the company, but a pound’s worth of it…