The grocery business is a hard business with small margins. When there were 6 grocery stores in town, the majority of them were owned and operated by families who were serving the community. Most of those grocers grew older and had kids who didn’t want to take over the business. The stores didn’t shut down because there was no need for food!
The co-op model serves the community in the same way as your neighborhood grocer and doesn’t need to make a large profit to stay in business, and the business model means that we don’t have to worry about owners growing old and kids not wanting to take over. Co-ops are also very nimble in the same way a family grocer is. As community needs and desires change, the co-op knows right away and can make the necessary changes, much like your family grocer could. Franchises like Sentry depend upon their corporate sponsors with 20-year contracts signed with distribution networks; they can’t change their inventory on a dime and this limits the powers of their franchise owners to make important decisions.