Membership Increases to Over 3000

City Market, Onion River Co-op, downtown Burlington’s cooperative grocery store, has surpassed its member drive goals with 188 new members. The recent reduction in annual member equity payments from $25 to $15 helped to increase interest in membership, bringing the total number of Co-op members to 3,119. “We work hard to offer our members outstanding benefits such as the Patronage Refund program,” said General Manager Clem Nilan.
“We were able to distribute over $130,000 back to our members in both cash and equity retained in their names.” The Co-op acts as a non-profit to its members by returning a portion of profits from member sales. Patronage Refunds are essentially retroactive price reductions on everything a member spent during a time frame. The first Patronage Refund distribution was a result of claimed sales from January 1 to June 20, 2008. Future Patronage Refunds will capture sales during the entire fiscal year of July 1 to June 30. The average refund check sent to members was $27.48. The Co-op also recently launched a new member program, Food for All, which helps to alleviate the cost of groceries for hundreds of eligible community members. The Food for All member program offers a 10% discount on all store purchases (excluding beer and wine) for recipients of Food Stamps, WIC (women, infants and children), and disability. Since unveiling the program in May, over 300 new Food for All members have joined the Co-op and $13,136 in store discounts have been provided. “We have four kids and try to eat vegetarian as much as possible,” said Co-op member Winnie Looby. “Organic produce tends to cost a little more than conventional, so the 10% food for all discount really helps to keep us on budget.” Another Co-op member Karen K. inquired about the Co-op’s discount programs only to learn that she was eligible for the Food for All savings. “I shop at the Co-op two or three times a week, and thanks to the 10% discount, I feel like I can splurge sometimes on one of the more expensive items that I might not have otherwise purchased.” Onion River Co-op members receive the following benefits with their $15 annual membership:

  • Patronage refund (cash refund based on annual purchases)
  • Store discounts through member worker program (7% & 12% discounts)
  • Discounts at area businesses through the Community Connections Program
  • Free water from the reverse osmosis water machine
  • Opportunity to participate in governance through board meetings, elections, proposals, referenda, and eligibility for Board of Directors positions
  • Reduced advertising rates in the monthly Onion Skin newsletter
  • Opportunity to display artwork in Member Café Gallery
  • Check writing with up to $20 over purchases