FAQ

What is a food co-op?

A:

Mama Squash Food Co­-op is more than a grocery store; it is a consumer owned cooperative business. What exactly does that mean? A cooperative business is owned and controlled by the people who use it. The Co­-op to date has over 90 community members and supporters who have financially invested in the store, and thus are owners. Unlike a business owned by an individual or a corporation, profits from the store return to our owners or are used to help the store better serve our community’s needs.

How can I distinguish a co-op from other organizations?

A:

A co-op is a business, usually incorporated, that sells goods and services.  It is not a charitable organization or a social service agency. Simply put, a co-op is a business model that allows a group of people with a common need to combine their resources, or capital, to achieve their goals.  Cooperation is built upon the idea that the owners control the use of these resources to benefit the users of the co-op.  Integral to the cooperative way of doing business is transparency, fairness, democracy and education.  These concepts are based on a set of guidelines called the International Cooperative Principles (see www.ica.coop for more information) that serve as the underpinnings for how cooperatives operate

Who Benefits from the co-op’s existence?

A:

A co-op exists primarily for the benefit of its members.  Many co-ops also support other parts of a community through various programs and philanthropic activities as part of their commitment to cooperative values and principles.

Is Mama Squash a non-profit?

A:

Mama Squash Co-op grocery store is a for-profit organization, in keeping with Illinois cooperative law. However, we have created a non¬profit alongside The Co¬-op called Mama Squash Foundation that exists to nurture and serve our diverse community through the practice of cooperative economics and educational programming, honoring a more sustainable relationship between the foods we eat and the world we live in.

Can anyone shop at the Mama Squash Market?

A:

Yes, Mama Squash Food Co­-op is open to the public, but owners receive discounts and they will have a voice in how the Co­-op operates.

What will Mama Squash co-op sell?

A:

Mama Squash Market will sell everything you would find at a a conventional grocery store, but our products are sourced locally – when possible.  We carry all the food you’d want to eat, plus cleaning and body care products.  We will have an incredible bulk section as well as beer and wine.

What will the prices be like?

A:

Mama Squash will strive to be competitive on pricing and we will constantly work on this aspect of business.  While local and organic food costs more, generally, we are committed to making good food affordable

If everyone can shop at the co-op, why become an owner?

A:

Owners provide community support for the Co-op.  Their investment in buying a share and their involvement make the Co-op possible.  Also owners receive specific benefits:

Vote for members of the Board of Directors of The Co­-op and on other matters brought before the owners

 Receive discounts as the store manager will direct.

As a member of one co-op you will receive the benefits of other co-ops as well

Special product discounts throughout the store

Will receive patronage refunds when The Co-­op becomes profitable

How much does an ownership share cost?

A:

$100 per share. This is a one­time, lifetime fee. 

Is there a payment plan for ownerships?

A:

Yes, through Paypal on our website.

Can I get my money back if I decide to not participate in the co-op?

A:

Yes, our bylaws provide for refunds if requested.  (See our bylaws)

When and where will Mama Squash Market open?

A:

We plan to open within a couple years when we have enough owners (see our business plan) We will open somewhere in Villa Park, but cannot choose a location until phase 3 of our business plan.

Why do co-ops have so many owners?

A:

A co­-op is created to serve its owners and the greater community. Owners guide the business of a co­-op and also provide the start up financial foundation of the business.

Do owners have to work or volunteer in the store?

A:

No. Owners are not required to work or volunteer in the store but there are opportunities to volunteer and serve our greater community through our Volunteer Program.

What is the Board of Directors?

A:

The Board of Directors is responsible for legal and financial decisions that affect The Co­-op. Directors are elected by owners at The Co-­op annual meeting.  Any owner can apply for a Board position.

Who controls a co-op?

A:

In a cooperative, members democratically control the direction of the business.  In most co-ops each member gets one vote.  Members elect a board of directors to monitor the business, set goals and hire management to operate their business.  Ultimately, the board is accountable to the members for its decisions.  Mama Squash will be operated in this manner.


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