Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CO-OP?
Simply put a CO-OP is an independent democratic organization owned, operated, and financed by its members committed to the people it serves and the community in which they live.
What is the Catonsville Cooperative Market?
The Catonsville Cooperative Market is a member-owned movement that formed in 2011 to open a cooperative grocery store in the community that offers local, healthy, and organic options at affordable prices and provides a sense of community.
What does it cost to become a Member-Owner?
The Catonsville Cooperative Market offers Founding Memberships for $200, a one-time payment for lifetime ownership. Founding members include anyone who joins the CO*OP prior to the opening of a storefront. We do offer payment plans and work equity options. Your $200 gives you a 'share' in the cooperative, which equals ownership and investment in the success and operations of the CO*OP.
How will the CO*OP fund a storefront?
With a greater number of Owners, the CO*OP is able to provide evidence of substantial community investment allowing us to approach financial institutions, other collaborators, and give owners faith in funding the store through a capital loan campaign.
Is the CO*OP a non-profit organization?
No. Catonsville Cooperative Market will be a profitable alternative grocery. A profit will be necessary to keep our doors open! Profits for a cooperative grocery are first used to improve store operations then returned to members in the form of dividends. However, we envision eventually establishing a nonprofit arm for the CO*OP to conduct community outreach.
How is a CO-OP different from Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
Through CSA, a farm offers produce to the public for a certain price per share (a box of produce or products). CSA’s are often, but not always, seasonal, and are picked up weekly or bi-weekly. Most CSA memberships give no choice to members in the content of their share. Sometimes, CSA’s require that members work for a certain number of hours on the farm.
On the other hand, a cooperative market is an actual physical structure that operates year-round like any other grocery store. The market sells not only your choice of produce, but also meat, dairy, non-perishable foods, spices, cleaning products, household items and wellness/health products.
What products are available through the CO*OP?
The CO*OP gives member-owners access to hundreds of products, including fresh produce and natural products from local producers. We currently have partnerships with several local farms; dairies; a bakery; a local honey producer; local spice, salsa, and frozen treat producers; and a fair trade coffee cooperative.
We also have thousands of natural products for home, kitchen, body, wellness, and pets available through the Frontier Online Co-op. Products are available from such brands as Frontier, Simply Organic, Seventh Generation, Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face, Avalon Organics, JASON Organics, EcoFriendly, and Dr. Bronner’s - just to name a few.
How do I order and pick up through the CO*OP?
Using our online ordering site, member-owners pre-order perishable products such as dairy, ferments, and bread. Pick-up occurs at our Market held every other Tuesday, 4:30pm-8pm. More details can be found on the Market page.
Do I have to buy in bulk?
No. While there are some bulk products available, most products are sold in “normal” sizes.
How do prices compare?
The prices we offer are currently less than what you will find at a conventional grocery store. Given our low overhead and volunteer-run Market, we are able to keep our mark-up low. As we grow in space, paid staff, and convenience our mark-up will increase. However, in effort to serve our community, we will do our best to keep healthy food affordable and accessible through various programs and thoughtful decision-making. And because you are a part-owner of the store, your input matters!
Is there a minimum amount I have to spend or a minimum numbers of times I must order?
No. You do not have to order every month and there is no set minimum dollar amount you must spend. You can order once every two weeks, once every few months, or once in awhile.
Are fees associated with my order?
You will pay a processing and development fee of 20% of your total order. This fee covers credit card transaction costs and operating expenses, such as new refrigerators, freezers, rent, new inventory, insurance and professional fees.
Am I required to volunteer as a CO-OP member-owner?
No, but as a grassroots movement, the CO-OP is currently operated entirely by member-owner volunteers and more volunteers are needed to make a future storefront a reality. Learn more about what skills we need and how you can get involved on the Volunteer page.