Each October, cooperatives across the country participate in National Co-op Month, an annual time to remember the important role cooperatives play in our lives every day. Co-ops are a more sustainable business model, using innovation to create and share prosperity for their members, employees and communities.
With more than 40,000 co-ops across the country creating stable jobs and a more sustainable economy, cooperatives have proven they’re a great way to build communities.
Skagit Farmers Supply, which owns the Country Store, is a cooperative founded in 1934 in Western Washington which gave farmers more buying power to purchase bulk amounts of fuel. As the years progressed, the co-op continued to give farmers that buying power, which helped them expand their farms and become stable businesses, which, in turn, gave back to the community.
Skagit Farmers Supply has grown to include a retail sector, feed and milling operations, a wholesale distribution center and an agronomy branch, as well as an expanded version of the original energy department. This diverse business model, and the ability to develop in a way that benefits its members, has helped Skagit Farmers Supply to grow and thrive.
Studies have shown time and again that customers want to do business with companies that share their values. At Skagit Farmers Supply, and co-ops in general, our ideals and values are the same as yours — create sustainable growth to better our community. Co-ops don’t have to answer to shareholders. Instead, we answer to our member’s needs via a board, and those members are your neighbors, your friends, your farmers and even you.
Cooperatives generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local and pay local taxes to help support community services. Cooperatives often take part in community improvement programs, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from the cooperative experience. These cooperatives generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages each year, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives.
So during the month of October, keep your local co-op in mind as you shop for pet food, lay grass seed, fill your propane tank or watch your child participate in 4-H or FFA activities. Know that the team at your local co-op is working hard to keep costs low and improve our community, so we can all live more prosperous, sustainable lives.