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.
What does it cost to become a Member-Owner?
The Catonsville Cooperative Market offers Founding Memberships for $200, a one-time fee for lifetime ownership. Founding members include anyone who joins the CO-OP prior to the opening of a storefront.
How will the CO-OP fund a storefront?
Every ownership moves us closer to opening a storefront in two ways:
- CO-OP is able to build capital
- The number of member-owners allows us to approach investors with solid interest from the community
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 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. The market sells not only 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 Coop Wholesale Store at special pricing for CO-OP members. 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 products. 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 discounted or wholesale prices. Group purchasing power allows us to negotiate discounted prices from our producers and vendors. In most instances, prices are lower than brick-and-mortar stores. Some monthly sales prices offered on household, non-perishable products cost up to 40% less than member-owners would find elsewhere.
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. The CO-OP makes no profit on buying program purchases – member-owners receive the benefits of wholesale pricing.
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.