Cooperative Governance

Co-op Cafe

Co-op Cafe 2019:  
“Everybody Can Shop at the Co-op”

Co-op Cafe 2019:  “Everybody Can Shop at the Co-op”

Many co-ops post a message above their door that says, “Anybody can shop at the co-op!” Yet it takes real work and commitment to go beyond words and extend an authentic sense of welcome, both for regular customers and those who are walking into the co-op for the first time. Building on the past several years of national conversations, at this year’s Co-op Cafe, we will focus on understanding how co-ops can actively and authentically create a sense of hospitality and welcome to all who would join or shop. During a daylong conversation with our co-op peers, we will deepen our understanding of the different motivations and needs of the people we seek to serve, current and prospective. We will take a critical look at the barriers that co-ops can unintentionally create, and collectively explore how our organizational culture, our physical stores, our messaging and programs, and our goods and services can contribute to weave a genuine welcome mat, for everybody.

How do we bring to life an expansive vision of “we”?

  • How can we fully understand the diversity of needs and motivations of the full range of current and prospective users of the co-op?
  • What are the key barriers to more expansive participation, and what can we do to eradicate them?
  • How can we create a large, inclusive, and inviting welcome mat at the door of the co-op? And how do we ensure that the experience inside provides the friendliness and hospitality to match the promise of that welcome?

Who should attend: Directors, managers and staff - anyone you want to be in this conversation back home at your own co-op. Bring a bus or van full of people from all roles in your co-op to a Co-op Cafe for a focused conversation on the positive impact created by our co-ops and the diverse and widespread participation that produces that impact.

This series is sponsored by National Co+op Grocers (NCG), with additional support from National Cooperative Bank (NCB), and produced by the CDS Consulting Co-op as a series of regional events making it possible for cooperators, whatever their role or position, to come together with other cooperators to participate in a day of strategic conversation. 

Click here for a full calendar of upcoming events. Cafe presentations and roundup videos are available here

Costs for Participation

There is a modest fee per participant. $60 per person covers meals and incidentals. Bring eight or more people and we'll pay for one (eight can come for $420). More are welcome! Additional financial support may be available. Contact Thane Joyal for more information. Click here for logistics information for events

Registration is now open!

Logistical Overview of Events

This event is a full day -- we will provide participants with light breakfast and lunch as well as light snacks and beverages at breaks during the day.  The Co-op Cafe runs from 9:30-4:00.  Breakfast is available starting at 8:30.

Using this link you can register one or more people for an event using the below link. Each person you register will be sent an email with detailed logistical information for the event. No payment is required to register. Please contact us if you have any questions in advance of registering!

Registration for is now open!

Special thanks to our Co-op Cafe Sponsors!




Associated Consultants

Art Sherwood

Board Leadership Development, Strategy and GM/CEO Coaching

Ben Sandel

Leadership Development, Startup Co-ops, Capitalization

Jade Barker

Board Leadership Development

Leslie Watson

Board Leadership Development

Marilyn Scholl

Cooperative Governance, Board Training, Facilitation, and Assessment, Cooperative Development

Mark Goehring

Leadership Development, Cooperative Governance, Facilitation, Member Linkage

Martha Whitman

Board Leadership Development

Michael Healy

Cooperative Governance, Team Building, Communication

Rose Marie Klee

Board Leadership Development

Thane Joyal

Board Leadership Development, Cooperative Governance, Bylaw Support

Todd Wallace

Board Leadership Development

“ These programs give an open forum for our staff and directors to consider growth and development in a unique, community-centered way. ”

Chris Dilley, General Manager, People's Food Co-op, Kalamazoo, Mich.

“ The two seminars I've attended added great food for thought to our cooperative endeavors. Having a larger context in which to see our daily struggles and opportunities affords a clearer vision and can create healthier and more robust cooperatives at all levels and in all sectors. ”

Christina Nicholson, Operations Manager, Mississippi Market, St. Paul, Minn.

“ CBLD and the Cafe series have been transformative for our top leadership team. ”

Dan Arnett, General Manager, Central Co-op, Seattle, Wash.

“ The value to our co-op is higher when a lot of people participate in CBLD events. ”

Mary Avery, Board Chair, Neighborhood Co-op Grocery, Carbondale, Ill.

“ The Cooperative Cafe lets me take a five minute break from work AND dramatically advance my thinking on key strategic concepts at the same time. It's as efficient as it is revolutionary. ”

Tim Barlett, General Manager, Lexington Co-op Market, Buffalo, N.Y.

Associated Case Studies

Upcoming Events

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