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Cooperative Principle #3: Member Economic Participation

Hello PFC Peeps!

If you're just tuning in, for the past several weeks we've been exploring the cooperative principles, the fundamental underpinnings of the cooperative business movement. This week:

Cooperative Principle #3: Member Economic Participation

We think of cooperatives as people coming together to address some economic need in a democratic way that leaves communities better than they started. As a consumer grocery cooperative - a group of consumers coming together to have access to food through a food business that embodies our values - the engine that moves the machine of robust community-based food systems is purchasing through the cooperative. And the basis for economic return from the co-op is that purchasing.

Every dollar you spend at PFC fuels and moves forward the important work of building and sustaining community-based solutions to our food needs through a storefront and farmers market, and through equitable relationships with several hundred local vendors and other small businesses. 

When the cooperative business is profitable, the profits may be returned to the business to meet further needs, or they may be returned to owners in the form of patronage dividends. Patronage means shopping at the storefront. Grocery is a low-profit business. The best-run grocery achieves profits of 1-3% of total sales. On our current $2M in sales, that would mean $20,000-$60,000 in profits. When the board chooses to return profits to owners, it's based on how much we've shopped. Say I spent $1,000 at PFC during the profitable year, and you spent $5,000. If we made 2%, I would get a patronage dividend of $20 (2% of $1,000), and you'd get a dividend of $100 (2% of $5,000). 

Collectively we look for PFC to improve our lives, and we have some responsibility in that. It's our job to capitalize the cooperative through an ownership share, and through regular shopping. And when we profit, every owner profits based on how much they've shopped. 

Our amazing staff shows up every day to make a GREAT experience for you:

  • The freshest produce around, this week featuring local salads making a comeback from Fitz Farms!
  • Delectable house-made foods like this week's PFC $5 Dinner Deal of hot Italian sandwiches, and our newly made Hummingbird Cake, a banana pineapple spice cake, vegan and whole grain!
  • Bell's Oberon is on the shelf!
  • New grassfed beef cuts and hot dogs from 1000 Hills at great prices.

So shop your co-op and make the magic happen! 

Until next week,


April Change for Change: Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E.

April's Change for Change supported Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. When you rounded up your purchase during April, your change went toward building affordable housing in the Northside neighborhood as part of a program to provide equitable solutions to individuals deterred in life by imprisonment, homelessness, and addiction, and address the shortage of shelter and transitional housing in Kalamazoo. A pilot project of six Tiny Houses and a Leasing & Training Building (carpentry, cutting, and catering) will be built in 2019 on the corner of North St. and Westnedge Avenue. 
By rounding your bill to the nearest dollar, you raised $1,576 for Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E.

Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. is a Project of Helping Other People Exceed (H.O.P.E.) thru Navigation, directed by CEO Gwendolyn Hooker. The Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. will be attractive, inexpensive and energy efficient and will come with support services and job training. The Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. project aligns with the global ends of PFC “to create access for all to food that is healthy for people, land, and the economy.” The Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E are also about access--to safe, decent, and affordable housing for people who are very often denied housing. The Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. are also about health—healthy people, healthy food and healthy use of the land.  The Training Building will include a commercial kitchen for training in catering, as well as training space for carpentry and tailoring. The site is a vacant lot that had a building on it previously. This project concentrates heavily on, not just providing affordable housing to a population that is historically marginalized, but also on addressing issues that perpetuate chronic homelessness by providing on-site, wrap-around services to the residents. 

The mission of Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. is: We Believe by Providing Affordable Housing, Promoting Recovery, Fostering Employability, and Inspiring Entrepreneurship with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we can Measurably Improve the Quality of Living for a Marginalized Population and Thereby Promote Shared Prosperity and Self-Sufficiency.

Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. launched a capital campaign in January to raise $350,000 for the project. One way to help is to host a "Mingle 4 Shingles" event. "Mingle 4 Shingles" are gatherings of potential donors, funders, stakeholders, and volunteers. The host invites people in their network of friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors who they think may be interested in hearing about the Tiny Houses of HOPE Pilot (THoHP) Project and will contribute in some way. Contact the Office of HOPE at for additional details and to sign up to host a "Mingle 4 Shingles" event.

To stay updated with Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. and H.O.P.E. thru Navigation, follow them on Facebook here. For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E. project, please download their FAQ sheet here.


More about Tiny Houses of H.O.P.E.


Cooperative Principle #2: Democratic Member Control

Happy sunny days, Kalamazoo!

As things warm up around here, we have some great stuff going on.

First, on the store front, this week you'll find: 

  • $.99/lb SALE on local fuji and gala apples from Crisp Country Acres, in Holland, MI
  • this week's PFC Deli $5 Dinner Deal on Wednesday is Falafel

Our Kalamazoo Farmers Market team is busy as bees preparing for the season. They've received more than 190 vendor applications so far and are starting to schedule music, food demos, night markets, and so much more. Can't wait!

This week, I wanted to focus some time on the second of the ICA Cooperative PrinciplesDemocratic Member Control. 

You know how in a stock corporation, whoever owns the most shares has the most say? Well at PFC that's never going to happen. Fundamental to cooperatives is the concept of One Member, One Vote. Some PFC owners have invested more than $250 in equity (yep, you can do that!), and some have loaned money to PFC. However, each owner, whether they've just started paying in at $10 per month or have lent PFC $10,000 to build our new home, has one vote when it comes time to elect the board of directors, or weigh in on changes to our bylaws. 

We are organized as a representative democracy, with each owner voting for members to serve on the board, which serves as the visionary governing body of PFC. The board's role is to create direction and accountability through policy, then hold the General Manager accountable to that direction. Our board is very competent, visionary, and driven. 

Have you thought of running for the board? We'd love to have you on our ballot this spring! Please email myself and/or Hether Frayer, PFC Board Chair, if you have interest or inquiries about serving PFC in this way.

Community control is what sets PFC apart. And democratically is how we do it. Thanks for being part of something special!

Until next week,


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