We have answers! Browse our list of frequently asked questions and answers below. Learn more about the process of opening a food co-op, how to become a member-owner, and more.
A member-owned and member-controlled business that operates for the mutual benefit of all members. Examples include your local food co-op, a housing co-op, and a credit union. The cooperative form of business is one that brings the owners, controllers, and users of a business together into one group.
We’ve done our homework! Both a preliminary market study by co-op experts and a feasibility assessment have concluded there is room in the local economy for a co-op grocery store. The studies show wide interest for better food shopping options across a wide area around the Androscoggin Valley.
That really does depend on YOU and others in our community! Much of the timeline leading up to site selection and store buildout depends on people in the community first joining the co-op. We need to reach certain membership milestones first.
Join today and start recruiting your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers! The faster we grow our Membership, the sooner we will be able to open the store.
The Androscoggin Food Co-op will be a full-service food store, with a variety of products that can meet all your food buying needs. We will offer everyday competitive pricing and regularly feature special sale items.
Products will be sourced from local and regional farmers and food suppliers as much as possible. We will carry organic and clean conventional produce along with a full line of high quality grocery store items.
Most importantly, as a member-owner, you have a say in what products we carry.
Most food co-ops put a priority on paying a fair price to their suppliers and a living wage to their employees, while offering the freshest produce available to customers and keeping prices as affordable as possible. Our owners will have a say in how we balance fairness, freshness, and affordability.
Without member-owners, a co-op cannot exist. A food co-op is more than just a grocery store, it’s a community of people who care about good food, good jobs for store employees, and want to support local food producers. Those member-owners are also the source for some of the initial funding for the business, which can then be leveraged to raise all the capital needed to open. If no one invests in the co-op, this model does not work. After the store opens, members may receive dividends in profitable years, based on their store patronage, Non members are not offered patronage dividends or member discount days.
The folks who have already become member-owners of the co-op are your friends and neighbors, folks who live in and/or visit the Androscoggin Valley, who have come together to do the work needed to open a community-owned food co-op grocery store. Learn more about them & our Board of Directors here.
We’re very protective of our member-owners’ investments and we’re dedicated to minimizing the risk. For example, during the stages of our membership growth (where we’re at right now), the board has restricted its use of members’ contributions to 25%, so no more than $50 of a membership would be potentially at risk. But certainly, if investing at this early stage makes you uncomfortable, stay with us, follow our progress, and become a member-owner when it feels right to you.
Opening the co-op! Member-owner investments fulfill the capital needs of the business and bring us closer to opening the grocery store. Your money will help us to pay for legal fees, marketing material, insurance, consulting services, permitting costs, equipment purchases, and the many other costs that come with opening a business.
Please note, we seek out and apply for grant funding to cover costs as much as possible and use equity only when necessary. Multiple grants continue to support our organizing stage.
A co-op grocery store is owned and operated by the people in the local community, and exists to serve its members and the community, not to make a profit for private investors. Co-ops are generally able to operate while following strong ethics and values. Plus, food co-ops connect with small, local and regional farms and food producers that are unable to sell products at a larger grocery store! Finally, since ownership is local, more food co-op dollars stay within the community where they are spent, rather than flowing out to investors and suppliers from far away.
We have not selected a location yet. We will create a Site Search Committee to begin evaluating locations in the Berlin/Gorham once we reach 600 to 700 members. That will lead to a professional, deep market study to evaluate potential locations and make recommendations for store size and design.
Our ideal location would be in an under-served location, have public transit and bike access, and plentiful parking.