ANNOUNCING: THE CO-OP AT THE HUB!

As of January 1, 2013, we are now the newest co-operative organization in the Tri-Cities and we are blazing trails as a co-op that is very different from any other.

Our mission has remained the same as it has been for the past 5 years:

We work together as a community to support the farmers, producers and small businesses in the Mid-Columbia region by providing a co-operative retail store where consumers can shop directly from producers in a single location.

What does it mean to be a member of the co-op? Co-ops are owned by their members, who accrue various benefits by virtue of their membership.  The Co-op at the Hub will have two types of member-owners:  consumer-members and vendor-members.

All member-owners will have:

  • Part ownership of our co-op
  • A vote in elections and on important issues
  • The right to run for a position on our Board of Directors
  • An opportunity to participate in our Volunteer Program
  • An opportunity to work on committees addressing different aspects of the co-op operation
  • Access to members-only programs

 As a consumer-member you will also have:

  • Access to discounts provided by vendor-members
  • Access to pre-ordering of products from whole food distributors like Azure Standard
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting our local economy and the farmers and small businesses right here in the Mid-Columbia.

As a vendor-member you will also have:

  • The opportunity to sell your product(s) directly to consumers without the high cost of a wholesale/retail markup
  • A direct connection to all of the members in the Hub’s Grow Local network so you can communicate information about your products and offer discounts and incentives
  • Access to business support including developing and marketing to an established customer base
  • The ability to add information to the member newsletter
  • The opportunity to offer specials to members as a way to enhance sales and encourage new people to try your product(s)
  • The satisfaction of participating in a community that is focused on helping your local business grow and stay strong!

Do I have to be a member to continue shopping at the Hub? Absolutely not.  Anyone is welcome to shop at the Hub regardless of whether they choose to become a member or not.  Becoming a member gives you additional opportunities to get involved with the mission of the Hub.

How do I become a member? Becoming a member is quick and easy!  When you join the co-op, you will be asked to pay a small annual membership fee, also referred to as membership equity, which is $35 per year/per member or $350 for a lifetime membership.  Equity payments can be made as a lump sum or on an “as available” basis.  Only members whose annual dues are paid in full are eligible for members-only opportunities. MCMH Membership Application (PDF) Please fill out and bring to the Hub to make payment – please note that we only accept cash and checks for membership equity payments.

How is a membership defined? A membership is considered to be a family household, and comprises those members of a family who share a refrigerator.  Membership will be recorded under the name of a primary member but member benefits will be extended to all members of the immediate household.

Why do members pay membership equity? Joining a co-op means that you become one of many member-owners of the business.  When you buy a membership share you are investing in a business that you think will thrive and, in the case of the Co-op at the Hub, you are helping to create an environment where other local businesses will thrive as well.  Our members are consumers, vendors, volunteers, and producers, each of whom has an equal membership share.  The Co-op at the Hub is unlike most new co-ops, which need the infusion of funds from membership fees to get off the ground.  The Co-op at the Hub has been incubating as the independently-owned Market at the Hub for the past five years so that it could demonstrate the viability of the business and its mission before becoming a member-owned co-op.  Having proven with our growth what a thriving co-operative market in the Mid-Columbia can be, the Market is now ready to make the transition to a member-owned organization.  Your membership equity will allow us to grow even further so we can better meet the needs of the Mid-Columbia region. You will be a part of an exciting, expanding Grow Local network!

What will the Hub do with the ownership share I purchase with my membership equity payment? For the first six months, membership fees will be used at the discretion of the interim Board of Directors to meet the requirements of setting up the co-op as a business (e.g., Directors and Officers Insurance, business bank account, etc.).  After that time, members will vote at least once a year on where to spend those dollars within the co-op.  Typically equity is used to improve or grow operations or take on capital/operational projects.

What will change once the Hub is run by the co-op? Our market will always be open to the public!  If you just want to continue to come in to shop, take classes, or pick a zucchini from the garden at the Hub as always, you will see no changes.

If you choose to join the co-op, you will have additional opportunities to participate in the governance of the co-op, receive specials and discounts provided by our vendors, or participate in additional programs that will be made available only to members of the Hub.  For example, there may be presentations or classes open only to co-op members,  And such perks as ordering specific products from Azure and other whole food distributors will be available only to our members.

Who is running the co-op right now?

Our interim board comprises the following ten people:

  • Lindsay Mahony (President)
  • Ryan Antos (Vice-President)
  • Peggy Hamilton (Treasurer)
  • Angie Medler (Secretary)
  • Dave Acton
  • DeNomy Dage
  • Nerissa Pettit
  • Heidi Sant
  • Dani Smart
  • Karen Strait

The interim board has developed the plan for the Co-op at the Hub and will continue to manage it for the first six months, i.e., until June 30, at which time a new board will be elected by the current membership.  Each member (i.e., each membership) will have one vote.

How is the Hub different from other co-ops? Co-ops come in many shapes and sizes.  There are food co-ops, housing co-ops, medical co-ops, etc.  Even credit unions are co-ops!  The Co-op at the Hub is different than a traditional food co-op in several ways:

  • We work cooperatively, not just buy cooperatively.
  • We are focused on growing the small businesses in the Mid-Columbia region so that they remain a strong, integral part of our local economy.
  • Our co-op includes not just a retail market but also a commercial kitchen, and there are plans in process to expand to other venues, including a greenhouse and a public market.
  • In order to maximize the support we provide to local producers, we do not anticipate distributing annual patronage refunds (often known as dividends).

WE WARMLY INVITE YOU TO JOIN OUR CO-OP AS A FOUNDING MEMBER

HELP MAKE OUR CO-OP A SUCCESS!

Who can I talk to if I have questions about the new co-op?

General questions: contact@nwfoodhub.com

Questions about becoming a vendor: vendors@nwfoodhub.com

Questions about use of the kitchen: kitchen@nwfoodhub.com

Questions about classes offered at the Hub: classes@nwfoodhub.com

Or just drop by when we are open and talk to any of our board members. They can answer your questions and give you a tour of our Hub community.

The NW Regional Food Hub
603 Goethals
Richland, WA 99352