What is Membership?

Since the beginning, GreenStar's mission focused on making nutritious, whole food available to its members. But membership means more than just access to good, healthy food...

When you join the Co-op you become a Member-Owner of a locally-owned and cooperatively operated values-based business. We focus on the social and environmental impact GreenStar makes on our local and global community, as well as economic performance. We put our values first, and return all profits back to the Co-op or donate them to the community.

The co-operative business model has proven to be a strong alternative to traditional profit-driven businesses. And, for every dollar you spend in a locally-owned business or cooperative, 45 cents is return to the community, compared to only 13 cents when you spend a dollar at a chain store.

One Member – One Vote means your voice truly counts!

Like all consumer co-ops, GreenStar is owned and democratically run by the people who use the store. Unlike traditional corporations where the amount of a stockholder's investment determines his or her voting power, every member at GreenStar has equal voting rights. As a Member-Owner, you have an equal say in the future direction of GreenStar.

By investing and participating in your co-op, you're putting your values into action.

Through your Equity Share investment and patronage, GreenStar supports the health and well-being of our member-owners, our community and the planet by:

  • Purchasing from local farmers and businesses
  • Paying a livable wage
  • Using clean energy and recycled office supplies
  • Supporting organic agriculture and fair trade producers
  • Offering health insurance to employees
  • Donating to local charities and events
  • Providing education on nutrition, health and sustainability
  • Improving access to healthy food to those on limited budgets through the FLOWER program



9,000+ Member-Owners and Going Strong!

By Alexis Alexander,

Membership Manager

ExpansionThis week our General Manager, Brandon Kane, and I submitted the annual Membership report to Council. What fabulous news we had to share! Our growing membership is a strong sign that our cooperative values and corresponding emphasis on a triple bottom line — people and planet, as well as profit — resonate with an increasing number of individuals in our community. The report also reveals that our effort to increase healthy food access to lower-income individuals and families is meeting with success.

In 2013, we issued 1,758 new memberships. While this number was down slightly from 2012, we were expecting a decline due to a renewal policy implemented last June. The new policy allows those with expired memberships to simply reactivate their membership with a single renewal payment rather than forfeiting their old membership and starting a new one. Many people did just that.

August, with the large influx of students returning to town, continues to be the month with the highest number of new memberships — 241 in 2013. This figure reflects the outreach efforts GreenStar has undertaken at the area colleges, in addition to the growing involvement of younger people in economic and environmental sustainability initiatives.

What is truly remarkable about last year is the record-breaking number of member-owners who renewed their memberships — 5,016 in all. This is the first time in GreenStar history that we renewed over 5,000 member-owners in a single year. This high renewal figure points to two positive outcomes for the Co-op. First, from feedback we've received we know that the new renewal policy has brought former member-owners back to the Co-op, indicating that the renewal policy change has met with satisfaction and success. Second, and more profound, this represents a concrete example of the high degree of loyalty and satisfaction among our member-owners that we hear about so often through conversations and in our annual member-owner survey.

Of course, given that we live in a college community with a high number of people continually moving in and out of town, we also have a large number of memberships that expire each year. Consequently, our membership doesn't grow according to the number of new memberships issued. In fact, the number of GreenStar member-owners fluctuates on a daily basis. By the end of January 2014, our membership increased by 573 member-owners in one year's time. As I write this article today, our membership stands at over 9,300 member-owners — another milestone for GreenStar!

A significant trend we're currently seeing is a growing number of member-owners making equity payments at the $4 annual rate vs the $9 rate. The lower rate is offered to those member-owners who are over 65 years of age, differently abled, or low-income. New membership sales at the $4 rate have increased from 20 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2013. Renewal rates show a similar pattern, increasing from 25 to 30 percent of renewals processed. This increase corresponds with the initiation of the FLOWER program in 2010 and the enhanced outreach efforts and food justice work of both GreenStar and GreenStar Community Projects over the past four years. Additionally, FLOWER program enrollment grew by 31 member-owners in 2013, bringing the year-end total to 427 participants. This is a positive sign that our mission to improve healthy food access in our community is reaching and impacting a growing number of individuals and families in the area.

We expect to have an equally successful year in 2014. The year is certainly off to a great start. In January, we introduced U-Pick 10% Off, our new member-owner benefit that replaces the 10% on the 10th Member-Owner Appreciation Day and instead allows member-owners to choose one day during each month to receive a 10 percent discount. The fervor of U-Pick 10% Off is evident every day — feedback has been fantastic and, in January alone, 2,625 member-owners chose to use the benefit. This compares to the 1,494 member-owners who shopped last year on January's 10% on the 10th. The comparison shows that GreenStar was able to reach 75 percent more member-owners through the U-Pick 10% Off benefit than we did with the old system. Broadly reaching member-owner benefits is one of the keys to achieving high levels of member-owner satisfaction and participation in the Co-op. Given the excitement we've seen so far, 2014 just might be a banner year for GreenStar!

And don't forget! The annual member-owner survey will be issued in March this year. Those who did not sign up to receive the survey via email will be able to pick up a copy at the Member Centers at either store. Please complete the survey to let us know how you think the Co-op is doing!

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