Locally owned cooperatives in the industries of groceries, banking, and insurance are quick becoming a popular alternative for an increasing number of Americans and changing the face of the nation’s local economies. In St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, the 35-year-old Mississippi Market has about 12,000 member-owners, who pay $90 each, sometimes in installments, to join. “Members don’t save a bundle as they might at wholesale clubs, but they share in profits returned to them in member-only coupons good for anything in the store. They also enjoy discounts on classes such as nutrition and canning, as well as occasional opportunities to buy bonds that pay 1 to 6 percent…”
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What’s the Big Idea?
Community credit unions are providing alternatives to banking customers who feel they are less a priority to their bank than its shareholders, who tend to be more sophisticated and demanding when it comes to building a fiercely competitive company. C.E. Pugh, chief operating officer of the National Co-operative Grocers Association, which has 134 members in 36 states, said: “People are seeking out maybe a little more community, a little more in their lives of what co-ops offer. You don’t invest [in a co-op] to get rich. You invest to be part of a community, to support an enterprise…that you find value in.”