Humboldt Co-op - FAQ


Who owns the Co-op?
Co-ops are locally owned by people just like you. Owners, or members, are usually regular shoppers. Co-ops are the only business where the shoppers own the store.

Who controls the Co-op?
Co-ops are democratically controlled by local members (one member, one vote). Members control the Co-op through a locally elected Board of Directors. Members can become a Director of the Co-op by allowing their names to stand at an annual election. Members can also exercise control by attending annual meetings, by proposing or voting on resolutions, or offering suggestions to Co-op management and directors. Local control means that decisions affecting the Co-op are made locally in the best interests of the members and the community and not made by executives in far off national or multi-national corporations. Co-ops are an alternative to the growing concentration of corporate power and control.

Who can become a member?
Anyone who can use the services and is over the age of 16 can become a member. Co-ops have an open membership. Being a Co-op member means that you own a share of a business in your community.

How do you become a member?
To become a member you fill out an application form available at all locations. You will purchase a one-time share for $10. You will then receive a Co-op number.

Why do I need a Co-op number?
Having a Co-op number means you are a part owner of the business. It means you share in the earnings of the Co-op. Every time you make a purchase at the Co-op, you will be asked for your number, which is used to record your purchases.

Why do you need to record my purchases?
Any earnings from the Co-op are distributed to member owners based on their purchases. Earnings are returned to members either as equity or cash, depending on the Co-op's financial situation.

What is Co-op Equity and Cash Back?
As owners, members are entitled to share in the earnings of the business. Co-ops return the earnings to members based on the purchases they have made during the year. This return is paid out partly in cash and partly in equity.

Do I have to be a member to shop at Humboldt Co-op?
No, but by becoming a member you become a part owner of the business and you share in the earnings of the Co-op. You can also attend annual meetings and vote on resolutions and run for a position on the Board of Directors.

Do I have to give my member number each time?
Yes. The cashier will ask you for your membership number. You will be given a receipt which includes your membership number as verification of your purchase.

When will I get my first refund and what period does it cover?
You will receive your first refund in the spring of the year following the fiscal year in which you joined. The Co-op's fiscal year runs from January to December. Your refund will be based on purchases you made during the previous fiscal year. For example, if you join in February 2010, you will receive your first refund in the spring of 2011, based on your purchases between the day you joined and the end of December 2011.

What purchases are included when calculating my patronage refund?
Any purchases at your local Humboldt Co-op Food Stores, Convenience Stores and Cardlocks in Humboldt, Lanigan and Drake.

How will I receive my cash refund?
Your refund cheque will be mailed to you so it is very important that we have your current address.

How much cash will I receive?
To calculate how much cash you receive there are two steps involved. First, you are credited with an equity "allocation". Your allocation depends on how much you spent in each department. Each department's allocation rate is different. Second, the cash you receive is calculated as a percentage of the allocation. The percentage varies from year to year. A percentage of 30% of the current year's allocation was paid out in cash and withholding tax and is based on the amount of equity you had at the start of the year.

When do I get the rest of my equity allocation?
The rest of your allocation goes into your equity account. When you move away from the trading area you can apply for your accumulated equity. With members birthdates on file, members that reach the age of 70 before December 31st of each year will be paid out the equity automatically. No application is required. You will receive your total equity less $25, which is retained to keep your membership active. If you apply as a moved away member, your total equity is paid out to you and the membership is closed. If you die your equity is paid out to your estate.

Why don't I receive all of my allocation in cash?
The Co-op Board of Directors reviews the financial position of the Co-op each year and decides how much can be paid out and how much will be retained to finance operations and maintain and upgrade assets to ensure on-going success.

Why is the allocation rate different in each department?
The allocation rate is reviewed each year and may change as a result of fluctuating market and competitive conditions.

Can I use my local Co-op number when I purchase from other Co-ops in other communities?
No, each Co-op is independent with different policies regarding equity and cash back.

What is the Co-op's pricing policy?
Our policy is to provide quality goods and services with friendly service in pleasant surroundings at competitive prices. This does not mean that our price on every item will always match the lowest of our competitors. It does mean, however, that we are constantly checking prices at our competitors that offer the same level of quality and service to ensure that our prices represent fair value to Co-op members. Our Value Priced Every Day program offers everyday low prices on hundreds of everyday items. Four times a year we have our very popular Warehouse Sales and our 10 for $10.00 sale.

Why should I get involved in a Co-op?
Co-ops provide an opportunity for you to learn about business, to work with other people and take advantage of training programs provided for directors and delegates.

Why should I shop at a Co-op?
Shopping at a Co-op means much more than just meeting your everyday needs. When you shop at a Co-op you are supporting a local business and investing in your community. Any earnings generated by the Co-op are returned to members, either as cash or equity. Until that equity is paid out it is reinvested in the local business, improving facilities and services. We try to conduct our activities in the interests of the consumer and emphasize ethical human values rather than technicalities or legalisms. We offer superior customer service and a "No-Hassle Guarantee" on all our products.

How does the Humboldt Co-op contribute to the Community?
Humboldt Co-op donates to a wide range of community organizations that contribute to the social, cultural and recreational needs of the community. We have donated to many local community groups over the past few years.

Is Humboldt Co-op a good employer?
We provide employment for local people and offer competitive salaries and benefits, training programs and opportunities for advancement.

If you have questions that aren't answered here, please call our Business Office at (306)682-2632 or e-mail us at