Community owned retail can be set up as community owned, run and funded cooperative or an LLC or as a member service cooperative.
Community-owned retail are businesses owned by multiple "members" of the store. This means the customers or clients own a share in the business they use, thus providing the services they need.
Community-owned retail can be "worker cooperatives" where members are both employees of the business as well as owners of the cooperative, or "service cooperatives" where consumers have the opportunity to supply their own needs, gain bargaining power, and share earnings.
Often the idea for a community owned retail store or business arises when a community loses a local store or the need for a local store is significant.
Grocery stores are common community owned retail stores in areas known as "food deserts" which occur in towns where the commute to reach a grocery store is an hour or more one way.
Examples of community owned retail include: grocery stores, retail stores (clothing), variety stores, clinics, etc.
Successful Community Owned Retail Stories
- Project of Nebraska Cooperative Development Center
- The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center has been involved in a number of development projects across Nebraska focused on the conversion or start up of community owned stores in rural towns. Many of these projects are helping to maintain an essential service for the community, or to re-establish an essential service that the community has lost.
- A project of: Indiana Cooperative Development Center
- "In September 2005, a large group of residents from the greater Orange County region in Southern Indiana gathered to discuss plans to initiate a project to support the growers of local specialty foods and enhance their availability within the region. From that meeting, a steering committee was formed to begin development work of the Lost River Community Cooperative. Since that time, the group has been off and running!"
- Southern Idaho A project of: Northwest Cooperative Development Center
- A group of visionaries came together in the fall of 2006 in southern Idaho. The topic was connecting people to wholesome, local foods. The participants were local people—farmers neighbors, restaurant owners, parents and business owners. They spoke passionately of their commitment to wholesome foods. This was about more than nutrition, they said. It was also about food security and support of local producers. The traditional, worldwide system for transporting and selling foods did not support their values. It was time to take action as a community.