Best Practices

There are over 40,000 (Rapp, 1995) cooperatives in the US and even more around the world doing amazing work across a variety of sectors.  A number of these cooperatives working in the areas of food and urban agriculture, housing and community development and social and human services are highlighted on this site under specialized support for different sectors.  Others can be found through well-known national and international cooperative networks. In this section you will find a few key local/regional, national and international examples of established cooperatives that have received widespread acclaim for their accomplishments.


BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Art & Salvage)
BICAS, located in Tucson, AZ is a collectively run non-profit that provides community education and a recycling place for old bikes.  On their website, they boast a promotion of & quote education, art, and a healthy environment while providing service and opportunity for those in need & quote. (Tucson)

Food Conspiracy Co-op
Since 1971, Food Conspiracy has supplied the Tucson area with a cooperatively owned natural foods market.  They are committed to natural and organic food products, environmentalism, education and social justice. (Tucson)

Flagstaff Cooperative Preschool
A parent-run cooperative preschool that is dedicated to creating a learning environment that encapsulates the needs of the individual child and their family. (Flagstaff)

Cooperatives From Around the Country

WAGES, or Women’s Action for Gaining Economic Security, works with low-income immigrant Latinas in the San Francisco Bay Area to create green business cooperatives in order to help themselves achieve substantial pay as well as safe and supportive work environments.

COLORS is a worker’s cooperative and restaurant in New York that emphasizes global, seasonal cuisine with produce from local farms as well as improved wages and working conditions for restaurant workers.

The Equal Exchange
Equal Exchange is a worker’s cooperative based out of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts which works to allow for the fair and honest exchange of goods between farms and consumers.  It is the oldest and largest for-profit fair trade company in the United States.

Cooperative Mercado Central
The Mercado Central is a retail business cooperative based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Developed by the Latino immigrant community, it is home to 44 businesses, and has positively impacted the Minneapolis community and economy.  To read a full article on the Mercado Central, follow the link:

Arizmendi is a bakery with numerous locations throughout California.  It was given its start by the Cheeseboard, a forty year-old cooperative in Berkeley.  Arizmendi operates its business by cooperative principles.

REI specializes in retail outdoor gear and is the nation’s largest consumer cooperative.  It began in 1938 in Seattle as a small outdoor gear cooperative for rock climbers.

Cooperative Home Care Associates
Cooperative Home Care Associates is a workers cooperative based in the South Bronx that provides quality home health care to the elderly and persons with disabilities or illnesses.  It was founded in 1985 and is now a national cooperative bringing in more than $60 million in revenue annually.

Co-op Power is a regional network of local communities that come together to work on multi-class, multi-racial, energy and other issues for the future.

Cooperatives From Around the World

Legacoop Modena

The Mondragon Corporation began in 1956 with the co-operative movement in Spain.  Mondragon works to combine internationally competitive business models with democratic and cooperative ideals, and is organized into four areas: Finance, Industry, Distribution and Knowledge.

BBC’s 1980 Documentary The Mondragon Experiment: This is the story of the origins of the Basque cooperative corporation, including details on the cooperatives that inspired Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta himself.  To see the documentary via YouTube in five sections, click here.

Official Oral History of Mondgragon from the days of the founder Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta as the oldest farmers son and revolutionary journalist to the modern cooperative.

Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Cooperative Complex: William Foote Whyte and Kathleen King Whyte.  Description of the organizational development and status of and status of the Mondragon cooperatives in the early 1990s.  To purchase this book, follow the link.

We Build the Road As We Travel: Roy Morrison. The story of the Mondragon cooperatives and how more than 21,000 workers have taken control over their communities and lives.  To purchase this book, follow the link.

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