How is it different than a regular grocery store?

A:

Food Co-Ops (or community-owned markets) look a lot like regular grocery stores -- with paid employees, clean spaces, full shelves, and fair prices. But co-ops are different from regular grocery stores in a few ways, too! The biggest difference is in the way the store is owned. Traditional grocery stores can be owned by a corporation, an individual, or a franchise. Sometimes the owner lives in the community, but more often they do not. Grocery stores often belong to distribution networks which have the benefit of keeping cost low, but also have the downside of lack of flexibility and adaptability. 

Food Co-Ops are owned by the community members who shop in and support the store. Each Owner has a say, through an equal vote, in how the co-op operates.

The purpose of a co-op it to not to accumulate profit for investors, but to meet the goals of its members. For this reason, profit generated by a co-op is reinvested in the business or the community, or it is returned to the members based on their use of services.

Ownership in the co-op is obtained through the purchase of a share in the business, which does not change in value (in contrast to publicly traded corporations) and entitles the member to one vote in matters that come before the members.