Central Co-op Returns More Than Half Its Revenue To Local Economy

CentralCo-op

In celebration of National Co-op Month, Seattle-based Central Co-op has released the results of an economic impact report conducted by Civic Economics, a financial analysis agency, showing the cooperative returns more than 52 percent of its revenue back to the local economy. By comparison, the average U.S. cooperative grocery recirculates 36 percent of its revenue in the local economy, and a conventional grocery chain store sends 23 percent of revenue back to the community.

“Our workers, our shoppers and our neighbors are central to all we do here at Central Co-op, and we wanted a way to measure how well our actions prove our values,” said CEO Garland McQueen. “The results from this study put tangible numbers to what we’ve suspected all along–our small co-op store has an outsized impact on the Washington economy.”

In line with the co-op’s mission to support the local community, the report found 20 percent of revenue was spent on goods purchased in Washington State. This compares to 12 percent of goods from the region for a traditional co-op and 4 percent of goods from a grocery chain. This recirculation creates revenues that are used to build and support the roads, schools, bridges and libraries that “make Seattle the vibrant community that it is today,” the company says.

In 2015, the passing of two propositions by owner vote converted Central Co-op from a single class cooperative grocery to a solidarity model by creating a “separate but equal class of worker owners.” The company says it doubles the percentage spent on wages and benefits relative to a conventional grocery store chain, with 92 percent of employees eligible for benefits.

Central Co-op is a founding partner of Seattle Made, and sponsor of the Taste of Seattle Made event. In 2016, the co-op gave nearly $26,000 in need-based discounts to customers, and donated more than 78,000 pounds of food to local food distribution agencies. In addition, Central Co-op customers “rounded up” more than $15,000 last year—and already have doubled that number in 2017. The company says it will extend its concern for the community to its new store in Tacoma, scheduled to open in early 2018.

Originally founded on Seattle’s Capitol Hill in 1978, Central Co-op is a community-owned natural foods cooperative. A “complete grocery store dedicated to sustainable practices and the Washington food economy,” Central Co-op features organic produce, humanely raised meat and wild seafood, a large selection of bulk goods and herbs, an extensive health and wellness section and unique gifts.

In 2015, the passing of two propositions by owner vote made Central Co-op a rare instance of a single class cooperative grocery converting to a solidarity model by creating a separate but equal class of worker owners. As another commitment to its workers, Central Co-op doubles the percentage spent on wages and benefits relative to a conventional grocery store chain, with 92 percent of employees eligible for benefits.

A strong supporter of community organizations, Central Co-op is a founding partner of Seattle Made, and sponsor of the Taste of Seattle Made event on October 6. In 2016, the co-op gave nearly $26,000 in need-based discounts to customers, and donated over 78,000 pounds of food to local food distribution agencies. In addition, Central Co-op customers “Rounded Up” over $15,000 last year and have already doubled that number in 2017.

About The Author

A word nerd, grocery geek and two-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.