In tiny little Rochdale, England, a group of people formed a grocery co-op as an affordable alternative to the company store. When the co-op store first opened over 150 years ago, it sold a mere seven items, but it started a whole new way of doing business based on fairness and concern for local communities.
Today, cooperatives exist all over the world as a different way to offer goods and services that people want and need. Cooperation is such a powerful positive force that the year 2012 has been designated the International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations, in recognition of the influence of cooperatives worldwide. The cooperative community will be celebrating together this year, and two such cooperatives---one in Spain, the other in the UK---are interesting examples of what co-ops can accomplish and how they can thrive.