Choosing to become a member-owner demonstrates your commitment to providing good food in our community, strengthening our local farms, and sustaining a strong local economy. The Old Creamery has long been a vibrant and vital resource in the Hilltowns to meet new neighbors and build community. As a member-owner, you have a direct stake in the economic and social capital of our store, and can use your voice to help shape the future of our store for the benefit of our community.
- A VOICE in the Co-op’s decisions.
- Eligibility to VOTE for and serve on the Board of Directors.
- Storewide discounts on Member-Owner Appreciation Days (generally held four times per year)
- Access to the Co-op’s future Patronage Dividend Program when declared by the Board.
- The opportunity to directly support important local priorities through job creation, supporting local farmers, artisans and producers, and fostering cooperation among people, businesses, towns, and area organizations.
- Pride in keeping the Old Creamery a vibrant and sustainable community resource for years to come.
Membership makes a statement:
-Keeping dollars in our local economy
-Maintaining a vibrant space for community interaction
-Supporting cooperativism and community ownership
Making It Work—Member Equity
A one-time $150 payment makes you a Member-Owner of the Old Creamery Co-op. You can also pay in monthly installments of $15 over 10 months. As long as your membership is fully paid within a year you will enjoy all the benefits of member-ownership immediately as well as the good feeling of supporting our Hilltown Community Co-op.
Ready to Join? Fill out a Member-Owner Application and give it to a cashier with your payment, or mail it back to us with your check. That’s it!
Our Bylaws are our main governing document, outlining the duties and responsibilities of member-owners, voting rights, decision-making policies and procedures, the powers and limits of the Board, etc.
All member-owners are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this document as it is periodically amended by the Board and voted upon by member-owners.
Some Co-op Fundamentals
1. Voluntary & Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their 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, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.
3. Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative.
4. Autonomy & Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5. Education, Training & Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives.
6. Co-operation Among Co-operatives
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
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
All cooperative businesses are owned by their members. This is a fundamental principle to the concept of a co-op. Co-op member-owners contribute money to purchase equity in the business. With this equity, member-owners get a say in how the business is run by electing the Board of Directors, which hires and supervises the general manager, who hires and supervises staff and runs the day-to-day business operations.
Member-owners have numerous opportunities to provide input into the mission, priorities, and programs of the business. Co-ops are founded on democratic principles. Member-owners vote on all matters brought before them by the Board of Directors. One person, one vote.
The cost of an equity share in the co-op is established by the Board of Directors based on the capital needed to establish/operate the co-op. From time to time over the life of the co-op, the board may determine that there is a need for additional capital and may increase the amount of required owner equity. (Typically this is done when there are expansion/relocation initiatives or major capital improvement to the existing co-op, which are initiated or supported by the member-owners.) Most co-ops offer some option for making equity payments over time to ensure that ownership opportunity is available and accessible to as many people as possible. Member-ownership in the co-op is always voluntary. Member-owners may choose to leave the co-op at any time and may request a refund of their equity. (For example, an individual might move out of the area and not want to continue membership in the co-op.) The Board of Directors has the right to determine the timing of return of equity, based on the best interests of the co-op.
In addition to purchase of the initial member-owner equity share, many co-op supporters also choose to provide additional financial support to the co-op. Additional support may be offered in the form of gifts or loans.
It is important to note that all businesses have an element of risk. A co-op is no different. In most cases, the member-owner’s risk is limited to his or her equity investment in the business. Some exceptions, for example, are if the member-owner also provides a loan to the co-op, or if the member-owner serves on the Board of Directors of the the co-op.
Most co-ops are for-profit businesses. And many co-ops measure themselves on the “triple bottom line” of People, Planet, Profit making sure that they have positive performance in the successful operations of the business, and also in the social and environmental impact of their work.