In Memory of Kris Olsen
Kris Olsen
The Coop Directory Service (CDS) is
dedicated to the memory of
Kris Olsen (1946-1998)
and his life-long effort to introduce people to natural food co-ops and assist them in starting buying clubs.

The Coop Directory Service is an online source of information about natural food co-ops. If you know of anyone that is interested in food coop information please feel free to pass on our e-mail address:

E-mail address: thegang@coopdirectory.org

Due to spam, the most reliable way to contact us is via this form. Please note that the Coop Directory Service is a web-based service. All the information we have about co-ops is on this site. Please don’t contact us with further questions until you have thoroughly searched the site.

If you know about natural food co-ops (what they are, how they operate, etc.) you may want to go directly to:
If you need to know more about what
a food co-op is, you may want to go to:
If you want to explore other things offered on this site,
you may want to click on one of these links:
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Website first updated: August 2000ish?
Website last updated: October 2013
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What Is A Coop?

In the loosest sense, a co-op is any voluntary organization composed of a group of individuals (or organizations) formed for their mutual (generally, financial) benefit. A familiar example is a group of roommates who rent an apartment together to save money.

These informal associations and the more formal ones discussed below all share a number of common features.

Coops are all around us - they are everywhere! They include:

For more information on the various types of co-ops in the US and around the world check out the National Cooperative Business Association and the International Cooperative Alliance sites.

The CDS is dedicated to promoting one form of consumer co-op, namely the natural food co-op. These natural food co-ops deal primarily with food products that are "natural" – those produced with a minimum of processing and with little or no additives or preservatives (much of this food is also organically grown).

There are three types of natural food coops that CDS deals with:

BUYING CLUBS - these are (generally) informal organizations of friends, members of church groups, etc. who buy food together from a food co-op warehouse.

COOP GROCERY STORES – much like a buying club except that they are (generally) formal co-op corporations often with thousands of member/owners. It must be emphasized that you do not have to be a member of the food co-op to shop in these stores.

COOP DISTRIBUTORS - These supply their members/owners (including buying clubs and grocery stores) with food. Until last year all of the distributors we list were, themselves, co-ops owned by their member/customers. Due to unbearable market forces one of them folded and two others sold out to a private firm – the remaining two have not as of this writing, succumbed. With, as they say, a heavy heart we will provide links to these commercial warehouses as long as they continue to support sales to co-op buying clubs.

Otherwise, each of these coops are non-profit organizations formed by people to provide low cost healthy food primarily to members of their organization.

What Is A Buying Club?

The short answer is: a group of people who buy food together from a Coop Distributor.

The long answer is: to really know what a  buying club is requires knowledge of how it operates.

Typically, they are composed of seven or more families, who share the chores of collecting money from the member families, placing the order with the distributor, helping unload the truck when it arrives at the drop-off site and dividing up the individual orders.

How Can I Find One Near Me?

Look for one listed on the Coop Directory. If you can’t find one near you, then contact your regional Coop Distributor and ask them if they can give you information about a buying club in your area. Sometimes they will take your name and pass it on to the local buying clubs who may elect to contact you.

Please appreciate that many buying clubs consider themselves private organizations that want to be careful about accepting new members.

Note many of the distributors allow you to link to a location on their site that will lead you to a buying club near you.

How To Start And Run A Buying Club

What resources are available to help me do this?

The basic rule is very simple --- contact the Coop Distributor in your area and follow their advice.

Note that the number of buying clubs in the US is probably over twenty times the number of food co-op storefronts. These buying clubs are a very important source of business for the Coop Distributor. Most have customer service representatives that are dedicated to servicing the needs of buying clubs. You may want to follow their procedures for locating and perhaps joining an existing buying club.

In fact, if you want to start your own buying club it is highly recommended that you join an existing club temporarily to “learn the ropes.”

Some other resources on starting buying clubs and grocery stores are available:

Kris Olsen Memorial

The Coop Directory Service (CDS) is dedicated to the memory of Kris Olsen (1946-1998) and his life-long effort to help people find natural food co-ops and start buying clubs.

In so doing, Kris fulfilled his special mission to promote food co-ops among people who knew little or nothing about the natural food co-op system.

Other Information

Coop Camps

Circle Pines Center

This is a children's camp and a year round workshop/retreat center for families, adults and progressive organizations. A registered peace site with the mission of teaching cooperation. It is sixty years old with a rich history and a whole foods kitchen.

Email circle@net-link.net

8650 Mullen Road, Delton MI 49046-0751
Phone (616) 623-5555
FAX (616) 623-9054

Mesaba Coop Park

This is a historic rustic camp started mainly by Finnish-Americans in Northern Minnesota before the Russian revolution. Efforts by some to support the revolution caused a split in its membership still present today. The library has a set of the collected works of Lenin. Charming place --- not to be missed.

3827 Mesaba Park Road, Hibbing MN  55746-8551
Phone (218) 262-1350

Camp Common Ground

This camp in Vermont is a cooperative, intergenerational vegetarian camp in its 13th  year. They welcome people of all ages, ethnicities, shades and lifestyles. People at camp can be single, single parents, married, unmarried or same sex couples, roommates, friends, and grandparents - whatever you consider your family is a family by us. Adults can come with or without children. Children must bring their own adult.

Email info@cgcvt.org

473 Tatro Rd, Starksboro, VT 05487
Phone (800) 430-2667
FAX (802) 430-2667

Co-op Camp Sierra

Camp is for families, single parent families, and singles. Cooperators from all over California (and elsewhere) come to relax in the beautiful Sierra Mountains in July, and at the Russian River in August, enjoying outings and recreation, socializing, and discussions about issues related to worker, housing, and consumer cooperatives.

Email: coopcamp@ic.org

PMB  #415 1442-A Walnut
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 595-0873 Berkeley, (888) 708-CAMP (2267)

Some Of Our Favorite Links

These are links to sites that may be help you save money, simplify your life or are just some of our favorites.

Food-Related Links

Coop History

Two works are offered here that chronicle two periods of co-op history in the upper Midwest --- the first covers the early development of co-ops between 1900 and 1960,  the second covers the ”new wave" co-ops, in the period 1960 – 1980.

ORIGINS AND LEGACIES The History of a Cooperative Movement by Cy O’Neil   $2.00

This is a reprint of the 48-page article available from Don Olson Distributing (612) 724-2976. This fascinating history reveals the intimate connection between this regional moment and the Russian Revolution   - the photo of the Red Star Chorus is worth the total purchase price.

STOREFRONT REVOLUTION: Food Co-ops and the Counterculture (Perspectives on the Sixties) by Craig Cox  $20

Of special interest is Craig’s account of the co-op wars between the anarchists and the Communists for control of the co-ops.

The Minnesota Historical Society has a large collection of source material on co-op history in Minnesota. Kris’s collection of historical material can be found there --- it’s called the “Kris Olsen collection.

More About CDS

Boring Details

The Coop Directory Service (CDS) began a Minnesota non-profit Corporation formed on 5/24/1999 under Chapter 317A of the Minnesota Statues. Its legal name was "Cooperating Directory Service, Inc." The initial funding came from Kris’s estate. The Executive Director of CDS was Howard J. Hickman. The corporation dissolved on 11/28/2011, and the Food Coop Initiative took on stewardship of the directory.

We wish to thank Inez Olsen, Terry Hokenson Seward Community Grocery and Deli and Lakewinds Natural Food Co-op for their generous financial support of the CDS.

This website was initially designed by Tracy Lea Landis, and is now maintained by Paul Fitzpatrick of the Data Commons Co-op.

The database of co-op information came from several sources. George Keller, who published a print version of this directory for many years --- ”The National Coop Directory,” compiled the primary source.

George has graciously given his permission to use data from his directory on this site. Kris had a database similar to George’s but with some differences – we have not been able to find the source of this data. We do know that in the past Kris compiled and updated the information for Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Another source was compiled by John Barclay,  who maintained this directory, derived initially, from George's database. This directory does not seem to be maintained lately.

Web submissions have become an important source of fresh listings and updates to older ones. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to keep the directory living and breathing.

Since 2013, the Data Commons Co-op has taken on the directory as a supported project.

How You Can Help

Any information you can provide about natural food co-op grocery stores and buying clubs not listed here who wish to be listed will be much appreciated.

Names and addresses of organizations that may be interested in knowing about this service are extremely important to us, please forward any leads to us.