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



It's Time for the Annual Member-Owner Survey

By Alexis Alexander, 

Membership Manager

Consumer-Survey-smHot off the presses, the Second annual Member-Owner Survey should be appearing in member-owners' mailboxes during the second week of February. The survey will be similar to last year's survey, allowing us to establish a trend in member-owner satisfaction on various topics over time. Brandon, our General Manager, will use this data on an ongoing basis in his reports to Council and to assess ways we can improve the Co-op.

The surveys are due back to the store by February 28. Just like last year, the completed surveys themselves serve as a $5 coupon. When you turn in the survey, you will receive $5 off any purchases you make at that time. It is important that each member-owner turn in just one survey to maintain data integrity.

If you're wondering about the results of last year's survey, below are some of the highlights:

1. Overall satisfaction with the Co-op is very high: 56 percent of respondents are very satisfied and 40 percent are satisfied with GreenStar.

2. The two most common reasons that member-owners join GreenStar are to support a community business (97 percent) and to support local products (93 percent). Supporting the conservation of our environment is the next most frequently stated reason for joining (75 percent), followed by "the Co-op economic model matches my values" (70 percent). Member discounts were indicated by 67 percent of respondents as a reason for joining.

3. Eighty-four percent (85 percent) of respondents feel that our Bulk Department excels, followed by Produce and Wellness at 50 percent each.

4. At the same time, 41 percent of respondents at the time of the survey believed that our Produce Department had the greatest opportunity for improvement, followed by the Deli and Bakery at 22 percent. Suggested improvements for Produce included more local offerings, better quality and lower prices, while comments regarding the Deli and Bakery reflected a desire for more variety in both departments and better prices for the Deli. Throughout the year, the Co-op has been addressing improvements needed as indicated in the Member Survey. For instance, both the Deli and Bakery have expanded their product lines, while Produce continues to work closely with local farmers to increase local offerings.

5. In recent years the issue of organic vs. local has become an important issue for co-ops, as more and more people are questioning the sustainability of the current food distribution system in our country. The majority of our member-owners (93 percent) indicated they prefer to buy pesticide-free local food whether it is organic or not (51 percent Strongly Agreed with this statement, while 42 percent Agreed). A significantly lower percentage, 50 percent, stated that they preferred to buy organic food regardless of its source of origin (10 percent Strongly Agreed, while 40 percent Agreed). This suggests that while organic food is still very important to our membership, local "certified organic" may not be as important if member-owners can purchase food grown or produced locally by people who are using sustainable, pesticide-free methods.

6. Most member-owners agree that GreenStar positively impacts both the community and their personal health; helps to strengthen the local economy; and can be trusted for fair dealings, careful product selection, and good information on issues of importance.

7. While the majority of member-owners agreed that GreenStar has increased their knowledge of the cooperative economic model and the impacts that production and consumption have on local and global health and the environment, approximately 20 percent of member-owners disagreed with those statements. This suggests an opportunity for GreenStar to enhance its educational efforts on the benefits that food cooperatives, with their commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice and sustainability, offer to individuals and the community at large.

Lastly, several member-owners expressed concern about our need to collect demographic data, such as race, age, and income, for this survey. It's a very important concern to raise given the personal nature of those questions. Over the past few years GreenStar has significantly stepped up outreach efforts in the community to improve access to healthy food across the socioeconomic strata of our area. Two of our more notable efforts are the FLOWER program, which offers higher discounts to member-owners who receive certain governmental assistance, and the Food Justice Summit and Walkathon sponsored by both GreenStar and our nonprofit affiliate, GreenStar Community Projects. By collecting demographic data, we will be able to assess the success of these and other efforts to broaden the diversity of membership at the Co-op.

We look forward to the completion of this year's survey and to learning from our member-owners how we've done as a Co-op this year in meeting our member-owner's needs.

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