Terms of Member-Ownership

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West Chester Food Cooperative, Inc. (the Co-op) is incorporated in Pennsylvania as a Cooperative Corporation (15 Pa.C.S. § 7102B).  Cooperatives are businesses formed to serve common needs through community ownership and democratic control.  By purchasing a member-ownership, you are buying a share of the business.  Each member-owner household is entitled to one vote in governance of the Co-op; no member-owner, regardless of their investment in the Co-op, has more than one vote.  Surplus revenues (profits) earned by the Co-op will be reinvested in the business and/or returned to member-owners on a patronage basis; that is, returns are based on how much member-owners spend at the store.  Under our incorporation statute, these returns are considered rebates and are not taxable.  For more information on Co-ops go to http://ica.coop.  Some other important things about member-ownership in the Co-op are:

  1. The Co-op is operating under interim bylaws until the first Co-op Membership Meeting at which time the membership will amend/adopt the bylaws as they see fit. View the interim bylaws at the Co-op website:  wcfood.coop.  The first Membership Meeting will be held no later than 5 months after the number of member-owners reaches 300 and yearly thereafter.
  2. The applicant for Member-ownership must be at least 18 years old and is considered the Owner of Record and the individual to whom all business correspondence of the Co-op will be addressed. Membership extends to all individuals (including minors) in the Owner of Record’s household (persons residing at the same address and living together as a family unit).
  3. Members are entitled to run for the Board of Directors, and each household is entitled to one vote in all matters, including Board elections, that come before the membership. A full description of the rights and responsibilities of membership can be viewed in the bylaws.
  4. As an owner, your liability in the business is limited to your equity investment. Investment in the startup phase of an enterprise always involves more risk than in an ongoing business.
  5. The member-owner of record may at any time choose to terminate member-ownership by notifying the Board Secretary via US mail. Member-ownership may also be revoked for reasons established in the bylaws.
  6. In the event of termination or revocation of membership in the Co-op, the Board reserves the right to defer equity return until it has secured equal replacement capital (new equity).
  7. Member-ownership is common non-appreciating equity and is non-transferrable.
  8. Member-ownerships may be paid in full ($400) or paid in $25 monthly installments with a $100 down payment. Time payment requires use of a credit/debit card for regular monthly billings.  Payment in full can be check or credit card.  Member-ownership becomes effective with first payment but lapsed payments will put the account into delinquency.  Member-ownerships that are delinquent for more than 30 days will be placed into inactive status and funds in the account will be returned to the address on file.
  9. When mail in payment option is used, the account will be in “pending” status until an initial payment is processed.
  10. For those in need, the Co-op will have a fund to assist with member-ownership purchase when we approach store opening. For assistance with member-ownership, please complete an application and select assisted payment for payment plan/ method.  You will be placed on the wait list for assistance and contacted as funds are available.
  11. A member-ownership packet will be provided to the owner of record when membership becomes active; a member equity certificate will be issued to the owner of record once the share is paid in full.
  12. Member-owners are requested to provide an email address as email is mainly how the Co-op communicates with members. As a new member, you will automatically be placed on our email distribution list.
  13. There is no work requirement with membership in the Co-op however work opportunities will be available when the store is open which will provide member-owners with additional discounts and benefits.
  14. You must provide a beneficiary in your application. The beneficiary is the individual who will become the Owner of Record (and whose household will become members) in the event we are notified of your demise.
  15. Terms of member-ownership are established by the Co-op Board based on the by-laws and may be modified in accordance with the by-laws. The current version of the Terms may be viewed/downloaded at the Co-op website.

West Chester Food Co-op Member-ownership Terms V 1.2 Effective 2/13/17