Our Co-op

The Bay City Cooperative Market is a nonprofit consumer cooperative organized under Michigan law. Its mission is to operate a cooperative grocery business which provides its members and the public with food, goods, and services with consideration of source, quality, and price; enhance the quality of life of its members and community; and to engage in, support, and undertake any related activities.

Modern co-op stores are professionally run. They accept credit and debit cards, just like other retailers, and we expect to accept SNAP/EBT and WIC payments, as well.

Some questions and answers:

Local people with a common interest in forming a co-op have incorporated, formed an interim board of directors and received help and guidance from staff at Michigan State University’s Product Center. An attorney familiar with laws governing cooperatives has been advising (and meeting regularly with) the board. Board members also have received advice on various issues from managers of existing co-ops in Michigan and around the country.
Co-ops are successful in cities both larger and smaller than Bay City. And we have the advantage of being able to learn from the experiences of co-ops that have been in business for years.
Before we proceed, though, we plan to have an experienced consultant conduct a market feasibility study. It will analyze potential sites and tell us how much money we’ll need to start and how much income we can expect, giving us a solid business plan as a foundation.
We aim to be a full-service grocery store, with fresh produce, meats and fish, baked goods, packaged foods, nuts, grains, spices, personal care products and vitamins. We’ll sell food in bulk. If we don’t carry what you want, we’ll take special orders.
As part of our mission, we will carry as many goods as possible that were produced in the Saginaw Valley region, both to do our part to bolster the local economy and to hold down the impact on the environment. We’ll also carry foods with minimal processing and without artificial additives, non-GMO foods, vegan foods, organically grown foods, and products from other cooperatives across the nation and fair trade producers around the world.
No. Investment by members is important to show public support and as a financial base, but the co-op will be open to everyone; you won’t have to become a member to shop there.
Members and their investment are what make the co-op possible.
As a member, you’re actually an owner of the co-op. You vote to elect the board of directors, its governing body, and you can run for a seat on the board. You can also participate in co-op decisions and committees. You have a true voice in how the co-op is run, because you own it.
When the store opens, you’ll have access to member specials and discounts, as well as dividends in profitable years (based on how much you spend at the store). Discounts are yet to be determined for the Bay City co-op, but food co-ops typically offer a discount on one transaction each month for members. Members at co-ops often can order cases of products at a substantial savings. Co-ops often hold classes (such as cooking and canning lessons) and other activities, all offered at discounts to members.
And you’ll get a warm, fuzzy feeling from knowing that you’re taking a stand to put more of your money back into the local economy, supporting small local farms and other producers, as well as bringing local, organic and natural foods to yourself and your neighbors.
No. But we expect to have plenty of opportunities for members to volunteer.
No. The board would hire someone with experience to be a store manager. The manager would hire the staff.
The goal is for the store to be centrally located in Bay City, in or near downtown. We’ve explored prospective sites, but a specific location has not been chosen. Besides an open floor space, we’ll need parking and a loading dock.
That depends on how quickly we can raise enough money. The sooner you join, the closer we’ll be to opening!

P.O. Box 32, Bay City, MI 48707