Frequently Asked Questions

Use the questions and answers below to gain a better understanding of:

> cooperative organizations

> how to become a member

> membership benefits

> and MORE!

What is a co-op?
  • A cooperative organization is created to fill a need in the community.

  • The co-op does not have one owner, but multiple members.  Rather than having one investor, individuals contribute small amounts of money to form the organization to fill the needed service.

  • A co-op refers to an organization that is started, owned, and governed by its members.

  • Co-ops are democratically-owned organizations where the members elect a Board of Directors who oversee the operation of the store.

How is a Co-op different from a publicly held corporation?
  • In a stock corporation each share of stock receives a vote for the board = the more shares and individual owns, the more votes they receive.

  • In a co-op, each membership receives only one vote, no matter how many shares are owned.

  • In a co-op, each member has an equal voice in Board elections and provides a stronger voice in the type of store created. The store is an extension of the community.  It is Directed, Controlled, and Governed by the members.

Is the co-op a non-profit?
  • Co-ops are for profit commercial enterprises. We are not a non-profit.

  • Our goal is to create a sustainable enterprise that generates enough income to succeed in business while providing the types of services desired by the members, paying decent wages to employees, and contributing to the overall goals of the community.

Will the store be open to members only? Or can the general public shop too?
  • The store is not a members-only operation. 

  • Anyone can join the cooperative.

  • Everyone is welcome to shop in the store, member or not.

How do I become a member of the Lynchburg Food Cooperative (Grassroots Local Market)?
  • A one-time fee of $200 per individual or household is collected.

  • An installment plan is also available. If you choose this installment plan, the initial payment is $50 and $30 a month for the next five months for a total of $200.00. Click here to view installment plan.

Click here to become a member.

What are the benefits of becoming a member?
  1. Help your community fill a real need. Our goal is to provide a readily accessible, full service downtown grocery. Your membership helps to create and sustain the cooperative and thereby build and operate the store.

  2. You may receive monetary rewards.  A co-op is a for-profit company, but because it is democratically organized, if the co-op makes a profit, you may receive a dividend. Additional benefits may include member only events, sales, and discounts.

  3. You are supporting your local farmers and economy.  We will attempt to source our products locally.  Not only will you benefit from fresh produce, but you’ll support your local economy.

  4. Once a member, you become a stock holder and part-owner in the company.  

Are there annual fees and commitments of membership?


  • The $200 membership contribution is a one-time fee.  There are no annual maintenance fees or any other costs associated with membership.

  • The $200 contribution is the only liability of the member.  Members are not responsible for any of the debts or other obligations of the co-op.

  • There is no work requirement for membership.  You will not be asked to work in the store.

Is it possible to cancel my membership and/or receive a refund?
  • The $200 is refundable at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

What can I do to help get this grocery started?
  1. JOIN: Become a member.  We need your membership.  Visit the “Join/Become a member tab” (INSERT LINK) where you can join online anytime. Not a member yet? Join here.

  2. PROMOTE: Not only do we need your personal support, but that of your friends, families, and neighbors as well.  Please tell them about this initiative and direct them to our website, Like us on Facebook.  Follow us on Instagram. Sign up for email updates.

  3. PARTICIPATE: If you would like to help we have several committees in need of volunteers.  Email us to get involved.

As a community, we have a remarkable opportunity to create the kind of downtown we all want, beginning with a full-service grocery.  Be a part of this change.  This is truly a community initiative, and we need everyone to join to make it work. 

Still have questions?

Please email us and we will be happy to address your questions or provide additional clarification.