FAQ


Can anyone shop at the co-op?

A:

Yes! Our co-op will be open to anyone who wants to shop there, even non-members. However, members will receive many perks, like special prices & discounts, access to classes, and being able to walk in like they own the place (because they do!).

What can I buy at the co-op?

A:

Your groceries! Most likely, all of them. The co-op will be a full-service grocery store, providing enough variety and selection for the average customer to complete their weekly shopping trip at the store. We plan to emphasize local, sustainable, humane and natural food systems, so you can have faith that you are purchasing great products. You will be able to find everything from basics such as toilet paper and bread to specialty items like vegan delicacies, gluten-free products, and fancy cheeses.

Will the co-op have affordable food?

A:

Yes! It is part of our mission to bring affordable food to downtown Bethlehem. We have a number of ideas in the works for how to keep prices down, such as a basics program with little to no markup on core products, working directly with farmers, bulk bins that will allow you to buy as much or as little as you need, and member specials and discount days where members will receive even better deals than usual.

Will the co-op have free parking?

A:

We sure hope so! This sort of detail will not be able to be finalized until we have our location picked out, but parking is certainly something we realize is an issue in downtown Bethlehem and plan to have on-site. We also hope to be close to a major bus route and on a safe cycling route so that folks on ALL sorts of transit have access to our store.

Is there an annual fee?

A:

Nope. Your household becomes a full member-owner in our Co-Op by making a one-time equity payment, and you may request a refund of that payment (per the process outlined in our bylaws) if you choose to leave the Co-Op for any reason.

Can my children share my membership card?

A:

Membership in the Bethlehem Food Co-Op is defined by household, so yes, your children are members under your account! Send them in for a healthy snack (and while they are at it, have them pick up dinner for the household!)

How does becoming a member-owner of the co-op benefit the community?

A:

Aside from the personal perks associated with becoming a member/owner, there are many ripple effects into our community. First of all, without member/owners, we cannot have a co-op, which will itself benefit the community by providing a quality grocery store in an area that currently lacks access to fresh food, creating a more walkable town. Walkable neighborhoods are directly related to higher property values. The co-op will also provide quality employment opportunities where workers will make a living wage and earn benefits like health care.

 

Joining the co-op is also an act of community empowerment—This store will be owned by the community it serves, giving a strong voice to each of our neighbors. When residents feel they have a voice, they become empowered to do even more to improve the community.


We envision the Bethlehem Food Co-Op as a gathering space, too, where members will take a class, volunteer at an event, or simply chat with a neighbor in line. Already, we’ve seen friendships formed at co-op meetings and have gone out in the community as a group to give back. This sort of culture will continue to help our community blossom.

Is a food co-op a new thing?

A:

No! Co-ops have been a valuable part of the economy since the 1800s. To learn more about the history of co-ops, check out Co-Op 101.

Can I work at the co-op to help cover my membership costs?

A:

At this time, each member household must contribute the same amount of financial equity into the co-op. Not only does this avoid the potential for accounting confusion, it also ensures that our co-op is equitable. However, we realize that making an equity payment could be a difficult situation for some members, so we do offer monthly payment plans to make sure membership is accessible to all. We also offer scholarships for income-eligible households.

How is the co-op different from a CSA, farmers' market, or regular supermarket?

A:

Both CSAs and farmers’ markets provide access to fresh food, usually at great prices, and offer opportunities to get to know your food provider.

Through a CSA, folks invest in one farmer’s crops for one season. So, a CSA member contributes money to the farm prior to the start of the farming season, which helps the farmer purchase supplies and begin planting. The CSA member then receives comes in the form of a share of the farm’s produce, usually on a weekly basis, throughout the growing season. 

A farmers’ market is a seasonal marketplace, usually outdoors on a weekly basis, where farmers from around the region come to sell their goods directly to consumers. Farmers’ markets vary greatly in size, quality, and running length. 

A supermarket generally makes purchasing decisions based on the influence of large food companies and profit margins, following a stereotypical corporate structure. They sell an enormous selection of products without emphasis on a particular category or set of values. Many supermarkets do not contract with local suppliers, although some are beginning to carry small selections of local produce.

The Bethlehem Food Co-Op will appear much like a standard supermarket (although hopefully with a bit more atmosphere) and will operate year-round out of the same storefront. Like a CSA, our early members are asked to purchase an equity share prior to our doors opening to help build community support and financial capital. Like a farmers’ market, the Co-Op will offer a collection of the best products from local growers. Basically, we’ve taken the best from each of these sorts of businesses and merged them into something fantastic!

Is the co-op only for people with special diets?

A:

We’ll have food for everyone at the co-op! We welcome diverse dietary choices and will strive to carry the products that our members want to purchase.

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