Simply put, a cooperative is a special form of business owned and managed by the people who provide and/or use the goods and services that the business provides. They pool resources to satisfy a common need and provide these goods and services as economically and efficiently as possible. A co-op is owned by the people who use it.
As locally owned businesses, co-ops are committed to the people they serve and the communities they live in. Owners can have a voice in what is available for purchase, as well as in the overall organization of their particular co-op. Owners get the most buying power for their money, and the money stays in the community, contributing to its economic strength.
Like other cooperatives, Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-op operates according to the seven Cooperative Business Principles.
History of the Co-op
Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-op was born as a small neighborhood buying club in 1971. The people who nurtured its growth were activists in a local movement to create alternatives to established institutions, including grocery stores. Their dream was a store that provided healthy, non-polluting, cruelty-free foods at a fair price, a store that belongs to the community it serves.
A year later, we set up our fast-growing enterprise in an apartment storefront at 4859 Voltaire Street. Customers looked for perishable foods in the refrigerator (where else!) and added up their own purchases for the cashier.
Then in 1973 came a very big step: O.B. People's moved up the street to a former pool and dance hall. It took a lot of work just to get the building ready. Gradually, the new store filled up with products and fixtures. The store's reputation grew too. O.B. People's became known as a truly people-oriented store with a unique selection of foods and uncompromising standards for quality.
For nearly the first fourteen years, People's had operated as a worker's collective. Then, in 1985, the workers decided that since O.B. People's had always been a community store, it only made sense that it become a food cooperative.
The years 2001 and 2002 found us remodeling yet again. This time, however, the Co-op moved into a whole new building. We are staying on the same site that we have occupied since 1973, but we have designed and constructed a new sustainable building to meet our growing needs and serve as a model of conscious construction. The new building was completed in the summer 2002 and O.B. People's, our very own community-owned Co-op, has begun a new chapter for a new millennium.
The Co-op's Green Building
Through extensive cooperation between the architects, staff, members, and city planning boards our architectural firm, hanna gabriel wells, has succeeded in designing an up-to-date, sustainable, and environmentally responsible "green" building which serves as a regional model of conscious construction.
Following is a list of the many great features, both structural and functional, that we can experience in the new Co-op building.
While our total square footage has increased from approximately 7,000 to 12,900 square feet, our actual on-the-dirt square footage has increased from 5,000 to 7,660 square feet, with the difference of approximately 5,000 square feet being on the expanded second floor.
The front of the Co-op building faces east into the new parking lot, rather than north onto Voltaire Street minimizing the impact of traffic, while the Voltaire Street facade hosts 15 feet of windows. A native herb and flower garden along the sidewalk and in front of the building provide a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle on Voltaire Street. A peaceful tree grove in the parking lot provides a place to hold Co-op special events and the parking lot has been laid with permeable pavers to prevent runoff.
Throughout the design process, we have heard the concerns of some of our Ocean Beach neighbors, as well as the praise and support of others, including our many Co-op members. We have constructed a new building that meets our Co-op needs while also staying in scale with our neighborhood. Although we constructed a larger building, we have a much lighter impact on our environment due to our environmentally conscious construction. Our seed has been planted, our growth has been tended, and now this 32-year-old food cooperative is blossoming in all of its organic glory.
Mission: To operate a retail vegetarian food store providing high quality natural products at a fair and reasonable price.
Vision: The Cooperative is dedicated to helping people live in ways that are ecologically sustainable and that promote personal health and well-being.
Values: We believe that consumer ownership through a cooperative structure provides consumers with an optimal democratic forum to meet the needs of our community. We are committed to promoting ecological sustainability with the products and services we provide and in the way we operate our business. We promote and emphasize products that are nutritious, organically-grown, cruelty-free and produced in an environmentally sound manner. We believe that informed choices made by all consumers have far reaching impacts on the local and global community, and are committed to providing education and information to enhance nutritional and environmental awareness. We believe that our employees are valuable and essential to the success of our business, and will treat them with respect, compensate them fairly and provide a safe and supportive working environment.
The O.B. People's Organic Food Co-op Mission, Vision, and Values were approved by consensus at the Board of Directors meeting on May 15, 1996, as amended.
In 1844, the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers organized the first consumer cooperative associations. This was the humble beginning of a worldwide cooperative movement. The Rochdale Cooperative Principles have been adopted by thousands of cooperatives, including Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-op.
On September 23, 1995, in Manchester, England, the International Cooperative Alliance, on its centenary, adopted the revised Cooperative Principles below. They relate to our developing role and mission as cooperatives and are the principles that guide our own cooperative development at O.B. People's Co-op.