Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Minnesota Street Market Food & Art Co-op?
A: We are a community-owned grocery store, with a priority on local, pesticide-free and sustainable food, as well as a gallery exhibiting local artists and their work. Everyone can shop here, and anyone can join.

Q: How did the Minnesota Street Market come about?
A: When the century-old Loso’s grocery store closed two years after a chain supermarket opened on Highway 75, the community came together to keep the store open. With a $100 investment from each joining member, the Minnesota Street Market — a food co-op and art co-op — opened on July 1, 2011.

Q: What kinds of things does the Co-op carry?
A: We offer produce and products that are as local, as seasonal, and as organic as possible. We carry a range of fresh food, dry goods, beverages and household products. We also sell art on consignment with rotating art exhibits year-round. Look under the Art Co-op tab and the Shop tab to see exactly what we offer.

Q: Can anyone shop at the Co-op?
A: Yes, the co-op is open to the public for shopping.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a member?
A: Membership equals ownership. As a member, you have a voice in how the co-op operates. You also receive a discount on your purchases, and share in any future profits. Your $100 stock purchase provides capital needed for equipment, upgrades and inventory.

Q: How much does it cost to join?
A: To become a member, you buy $100 worth of share of voting stock.

Q: What if I can’t afford the cost of membership?
A: Contact us to work out a payment plan.

Q: Does the co-op have family ownership?
A: Yes. Up to six adults or teenagers (16 or older) living in your household can be part of one voting membership. The first person named on the membership has the right to vote for that membership. When the first authorized member of the household cannot vote, the next member in the order listed on the membership application may vote for the household. However, members of a household can join as individual members, if they want to be voting members on their own (“one member, one vote”).

Q: Can businesses, nonprofit organizations and other cooperatives be member owners?
A: Yes. When an owner purchases equity shares in the co-op, this entitles them to one vote in the cooperative, “one member, one vote.” A business, nonprofit or co-op holding membership designates one person to vote for the membership.

Q: I am ready to sign up! What do I have to do?
A: It’s easy! Fill out the membership application. Click here to download our membership application. List a primary name on each membership. List up to six adults or teenagers (16 or older) living in your household. Bring your application and payment to the Minnesota Street Market. We accept cash, check, debit or credit card. If you cannot pay the full share amount at once, contact us to set up a payment plan. Or mail your application and check to: Minnesota Street Market, PO Box 397, St. Joseph MN 56374.

Q: How is joining the co-op different than joining Costco or Sam’s Club?
A: If you join the co-op, you own it. You are voting member, electing the board of directors and determining the vision and direction of the market. When you buy equity shares in the co-op, this entitles you to a vote in the cooperative, “one member, one vote.”

Q: What Governance and Volunteer Opportunities does the co-op have?
A: Whatever skills and talents you have, we can put them to use — whether building a display case, working on a newsletter, posting on Facebook, updating our website, helping do inventory, working a shift at the cash register, helping set up a sampling event with a local farmer, serving on a committee or the board of directors, teaching a class, hosting a workshop, entering data…you name it. Look under the Volunteer tab to see what opportunities currently are available — or contact us to suggest something.

Q: What exactly does the $100 membership buy?
A: One share of Class A Stock with a par value of $20, plus four shares of Class B Stock each with a par value of $20.

Q: How is the co-op governed?
The co-op is governed by a nine-person Board of Directors who are elected by the member-owners. The board’s role is to represent the member-owners, to create and implement a vision for the co-op and develop policies that guide movement toward that vision.

Q: How are board members elected?
A: Directors are elected for three-year terms at the June Annual Meeting. Potential Director candidates are encouraged to show their interest at any time throughout the year by attending a meeting or working on committees. If you are interested, or know someone who would benefit the co-op by serving, please contact us.

Q: What are Class C shares?
A: To become a member one must invest $100 in shares. To raise further capital, however, the co-op may offer non-voting Class C shares. This would be a way to reduce outside borrowing for future needs. It is a way to move away from financing with debt towards financing with owner equity.

Q: What happens to profits earned by the co-op?
A: As a startup co-op, it is not unusual to run deficits in the early years. 2015 is the first year we are showing a modest profit. These profits can be reinvested in the co-op. In the future, as profits grow, a portion of the profits may be returned to members.

Q: Where can I park while I shop?
A: In the back of the store or on Minnesota Street.

Q: What payment can I use when I shop?
A: We accept cash, check, debit cards, EBT cards and credit cards. We do, however, encourage people to think about their form of payment. Credit card processing fees get levied on each credit card sale we make. One member captures the issue perfectly: “Personally I try to use cash when supporting a small local business for this exact reason: Credit card transactions siphon money out of our community.” When you pay with a credit card, a good portion of the money “flows out, like a wound” in transaction fees to the company that processes the payments, the credit card companies and the banks that issue the card.

Q: Does the co-op accept EBT (Food Stamp Benefits)?
A: Yes. We are committed to providing healthy food choices to all members of our community regardless of income.

Q: Does the co-op have a work requirement for members?
A: No. But we do encourage people to volunteer. The co-op currently has two full-time and two part-time paid staff members.

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