What is Membership?

Since the beginning, GreenStar's mission focused on making nutritious, whole food available to its members. But membership means more than just access to good, healthy food...

When you join the Co-op you become a Member-Owner of a locally-owned and cooperatively operated values-based business. We focus on the social and environmental impact GreenStar makes on our local and global community, as well as economic performance. We put our values first, and return all profits back to the Co-op or donate them to the community.

The co-operative business model has proven to be a strong alternative to traditional profit-driven businesses. And, for every dollar you spend in a locally-owned business or cooperative, 45 cents is return to the community, compared to only 13 cents when you spend a dollar at a chain store.

One Member – One Vote means your voice truly counts!

Like all consumer co-ops, GreenStar is owned and democratically run by the people who use the store. Unlike traditional corporations where the amount of a stockholder's investment determines his or her voting power, every member at GreenStar has equal voting rights. As a Member-Owner, you have an equal say in the future direction of GreenStar.

By investing and participating in your co-op, you're putting your values into action.

Through your Equity Share investment and patronage, GreenStar supports the health and well-being of our member-owners, our community and the planet by:

  • Purchasing from local farmers and businesses
  • Paying a livable wage
  • Using clean energy and recycled office supplies
  • Supporting organic agriculture and fair trade producers
  • Offering health insurance to employees
  • Donating to local charities and events
  • Providing education on nutrition, health and sustainability
  • Improving access to healthy food to those on limited budgets through the FLOWER program



Generations of GreenStar

By Kristie Snyder,

GreenLeaf Editor

Three generations of GreenStar members ­— clockwise from top left: Jules Burgevin, Connor Burgevin, 
Peter Burgevin, Patti Burgevin and Margo Alexander. All are GreenStar member-owners.

My eight-year-old thinks GreenStar is the greatest grocery store on the planet. And who's going to tell him differently? His mom and uncle work here, other family members have worked here in the past, his grandparents shop here, and every time he steps into one of the stores he sees friends of all ages. To him, GreenStar is one big happy family, and he's far from alone in that. After 41 years in business, GreenStar now spans generations. Among GreenStar employees you'll find parents and children, siblings, spouses and partners. GreenStar's idealistic young founders now sport gray hair and bring their grandkids into the store for treats. Adults who were once babies strapped to parents' backs as they bagged bulk items are now members in their own right. Kids are practically being raised in GreenStar, and many of them, as they grow up, will carry cooperative values forward into their own lives.

The Burgevin family of Trumansburg is one of many that perfectly exemplify GreenStar's generational appeal. Patti and Jules Burgevin joined GreenStar in its infancy, back in the days of the Ithaca Real Food Co-op. Their son Peter and his wife, Margo Alexander, have been members nearly as long, and one of their two sons, now in college, is a GreenStar member, too, having bought a full-equity membership on school break a couple of years ago. (If Margo's last name rings a bell it may be because she's the sister of our Membership Manager Alexis Alexander — yet another family tie.)

"Patti and I function in a cooperative mode in our lives, and we raised our children in the same way," said Jules, so joining the local food co-op just made sense. "No other stores were carrying organic foods at that time; there were few organic farmers even in the area," added Patti. "We believe in the principles of cooperatives and what they do to help the community. And there's just good food there!"

Patti and Jules are still active in the Co-op, and for them, the GreenStar family extends beyond blood relations. "We're in our late 70s, but we hang out with a network of younger people, and we see them in GreenStar, which is a draw for us," said Jules. "The network of people who work there is significant. There's an energy of kindness among the people who are there, both employees and working members." Patti and Jules further this culture of kindness by treating cashiers to cookies when they check out — a habit that is sometimes surprising to new staff.

Of their three children, Peter is the one who has remained in the area. He and his wife, Margo Alexander, both joined GreenStar around 30 years ago, long even before the fabled fire that necessitated relocating to the current store from a prior Cayuga Street location. "I totally embrace the whole co-op model, trying to share resources as opposed to giving them to someone taking them out of the community," said Peter. "We want to be as locally connected as we can." Margo echoed that sentiment. "It's a political decision," she said. "We believe in the principles of the Co-op, and it's a community that it's nice to feel a part of. We wanted our children to have a sense of where their food comes from."

For those children, Michael and Connor, now both young adults, Peter said, "GreenStar was a sort of second family for them; they sort of grew up in the Co-op." "Michael Hoysic [current Human Resources Manager, then Bulk Department staff] used to push them around on a cart. Connor would go in on Margo's back and Michael used to help Loretta [Louviere, current Human Resources Assistant Manager, then cashier] on the register. The member-workers and staff all took interest in them and in each other's children."

Peter and Margo, like his parents, remain active members. "I've noticed the increase in diversity of staff recently, and I really admire and appreciate that. And really, I just love it there," says Peter. "We went to many different cities when our kids were looking at colleges, and would go to the local co-ops. We've got the best right here."

Of the youngest Burgevin generation, Michael now lives and teaches in Nashville, TN. "After he moved," said Margo, "he called and said, 'I found a co-op!' He was so excited."

GreenStar does not offer "family" memberships; rather, memberships are sold to individuals over 18. (Children under 18 may use their parents' memberships to make purchases.) Spouses and partners are each asked to purchase memberships, and grown kids need their own memberships, too. For a kid who grew up in an active GreenStar member family, finally having their own membership can be a meaningful event, as the family's values of cooperation become part of a young member's adult life.

Youngest son Connor attends college at SUNY Geneseo. He bought a full-equity membership over his spring break in 2010. "It made sense," he says. "I know I'll be shopping at GreenStar for the rest of my life." Though he no longer lives in Ithaca full-time, he stocks up on certain essentials (bulk peanut butter!) at the Co-op on his school breaks, and depends on his parents to ship care packages of certain goodies only to be had at GreenStar throughout the school year.

"I grew up in GreenStar," he says. "It's a great place, and I like to support it."


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