The Coop Directory Service 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.

WHAT IS A BUYING CLUB?

A buying club is a group of people who volunteer their time and energy to purchase high quality, healthful foods at affordable wholesale prices. Members equally share the work among themselves thereby trading their time for lower prices. Buying club members enjoy the community aspect of working together and often learn new skills.

HOW DO COOPERATIVE BUYING CLUBS OPERATE?

There are five basic steps in processing an order:

1. Members use the Blooming Prairie Price Guide and monthly Prairie News to make up their individual orders, which are then compiled into a group order. Usually they pre-pay their bills, so that the club has the money to pay the Blooming Prairie truck driver at the time of delivery.

2. This group order is sent by modem, called in, mailed or faxed to the warehouse.

3. Members meet a Blooming Prairie truck at a designated delivery site, with at least three people available to unload and check in the club's order.

4. Members divide up the order into individual household orders.

5. Individual bills are re-computed after the delivery. Credit or debit adjustments are made as needed, and members take their groceries home.

HOW DO I START A COOPERATIVE BUYING CLUB?

We recommend you have seven to ten households to start a club. This allows for the sharing of responsibilities among members. It's a good idea for at least one of you to have some organizing experience, such as with another buying club. If no one in your group has experience, you may want to join another buying club in your area, at least temporarily. Call Blooming Prairie for club contacts closest to your area. Talk up the idea with family, friends neighbors, and co-workers. Share copies of our current price guide and monthly sales flyer; it will give prospective members a clear idea of what is available to them and at what prices

Hold a meeting! Invite all of those people who are interested in the buying club idea. This gathering is an opportunity to emphasize the cooperative nature of a buying club how members share the work fairly, trading their time for high quality organic and natural foods at wholesale prices. Keep in mind it's important to get everyone involved in the club from the beginning. This way potential members expect to participate.

This is a good time to set up an organizational committee. Areas this committee will want to cover include: overall coordination, price guide and sales flyer distribution, ordering and collating, delivery location, break-down, supplies and equipment, bookkeeping, new member orientation and cleanup. As time goes by the committee will need to adjust some as the club grows and changes.

Discuss details such as the proposed delivery site and what supplies and equipment you'll need for the break-down. Decide on membership requirements.

When locating a breakdown site, consider practical details Possible delivery and distribution sites are churches, town halls, public buildings, fire houses or county fairgrounds. Site needs include accessibility for tractor trailer trucks enough space for the order to be sorted out, and flexible hours of availability. Remember, Blooming Prairie will not deliver on gravel or unpaved roads. Optional, but nice to have, is a sink for washing and clean up, a refrigerator, a freezer, and a phone.

Before ending the meeting, choose a name and a backup name for the club. (We may need to use the backup name if the first choice is a duplicate of an existing club.) Fill out the member application along with a map to the delivery site and mail it to Blooming Prairie. We need this prior to placing your first order. You will receive a confirmation call providing the club contact with the order deadline, delivery date and a short orientation.

Blooming Prairie has been serving cooperative buying clubs since 1974. We are committed to giving our members high quality healthy foods at affordable prices. In addition, we have support staff and materials available to assist the club along the way. Please feel free to contact the Buying Club Representative at any of the numbers listed in the left hand column for assistance. We look forward to hearing from you!

2000 Blooming Prairie. Used with permission 10/99.