As we know already, Members/Owners contribute equitably to, and therefore democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. The third cooperative principle explores the ways in which that capital can benefit Owners as investors in the business. Unlike large corporations, with sometimes distant and shadowy shareholders that benefit from excess profit, the Co-op exists solely to serve and operate in the interest of its community of Owners that shop at the store.

As we discussed in the first cooperative principle, an investment in the Co-op is really an investment into the community so that Owners and fellow shoppers can enjoy the benefits that profitability brings. A profitable Co-op means greater selection, more resources for worthy community causes, events, store upgrades, discounts and when applicable, patronage refunds. Patronage refunds are distributed by the Board of Directors in a decision making process that takes place after the conclusion of each fiscal year. The store’s profit is always accounted for and allocated in a way that best serves the health and longevity of the Co-op. If after those decisions are made and there is still excess profit available, the Board can make the decision to pay money to the Owners for their investment.

The Davis Food Co-op will always be run in a democratic way, so any surplus income earned by the Co-op is invested back into the Owner community in an equal and fair way. We encourage all Owners to consider joining and/or voting for the Board of Directors so that they can be more involved with the decisions that are made in regards to profitability of the store. At the end of the day, the better that the Co-op performs financially, the better return on investment that all Owners can receive!