Providing affordable student housing since 1932

Cooperatives 101

There are more than 47,000 cooperative businesses in the United States that generate more than two million jobs and create more than $74 billion in wages. These cooperatives also account for more than $654 billion in revenue!

In many ways, co-ops are like any other business; but in several important ways they’re unique and different. Cooperatives are:

  • Owned and democratically controlled by their members-the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods-not by outside investors; Co-op members elect their board of director from within the membership.
  • Return surplus revenues (income over expenses and investment) to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their “investment” or ownership share.
  • Are motivated not by profit, but by service-to meet their members’ needs for affordable and high quality goods or services
  • Exist solely to serve their members
  • Pay taxes on income kept within the co-op for investment and reserves. Surplus revenues from the co-op are returned to individual members who pay taxes on that income.

Co-ops come in all shapes and sizes and range in size from small store-fronts to large Fortune 500 companies. There are electric and telephone services, insurance co-ops, food co-ops, credit unions, forestry co-ops, farm marketing and supply co-ops, just to name a few. And, of course, student housing co-ops are an important part of the American co-op movement.

Whether big or small, urban or rural, in the east, west, north or south, co-ops are committed to meeting people’s needs through democratic control, sound business practices and collaborative community effort.

Other Co-op Organizations

North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO)
330 S. Wells St, Suite 618-F, Chicago, IL 60606 | (773) 404-2667 |

NASCO is an association of campus cooperatives in Canada and the U.S., providing student cooperatives with operational assistance, encouraging the development of new student cooperatives, and serving as an advocate for student cooperatives. NASCO teaches leadership skills, provides information, and serves as the central link facilitating the fruition of the Rochdale vision in the student sector. By strengthening the student co-op movement, we believe we can strengthen the future of cooperatives generally.

Student Buyer’s Association (SBA)
337 E. Williams, Ann Arbor, MI | (734) 662-0257 |

Up the stairs from the ICC front desk in the Rochdale Center, SBA serves both the ICC and local fraternities and sororities, Receiving bulk orders from many organizations allows SBA to provide food to the ICC at a very low cost. As a member if the ICC, you are automatically a member of SBA. the majority of each house’s food and supplies comes from SBA-approved vendors.

People’s Food Co-op (PFC)
216 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor, MI |

The PFC has been around since the 70’s. It started out in a basement as a buying club and has since grown into a retail natural food grocery store, hot bar and café. PFC specializes in organic and bulk foods, as well as products that are whole-grain based and contain no artificial additives. Members pay a one-time, refundable $60 share, and enjoy special sales and annual rebate checks – but you don’t have to be a member to shop there.

University of Michigan Credit Union
333 E. William St., Ann Arbor, MI | (734) 662-8200 |

Located right next door to the ICC office, this cooperative bank, owned collectively by its customers, offers a wide variety of accounts and services with great rates and customer service. Besides the main office on William, there are several other branches: 777 Eisenhower Plaza, 2101 Bonisteel Drive (North Campus), and in the basement of The Michigan Union. Membership, which is open to all U of M and Washtenaw Students, requires paying a $5 fee and opening a Share Savings Account with a $5 deposit.

Co-op Optical

This partially employee-owned member cooperative provides low-cost lenses and frames to companies, unions, and the public. Originally a branch of a senior housing co-op, it is now its own thriving corporation with 16 branches. It is also (probably) the only co-op of its kind inn the U.S. You don’t have to be a member to take advantage of Co-op Optical prices. With their low markup on frames (in comparison with for-profit eye-glass stores), it’s well worth making a visit to this unique co-op!

The Ypsilanti Food Co-op
312 North River Street Ypsilanti | (734)-483-1520 |

Around since 1975, Ypsilanti Food Co-op has been providing organic, bulk foods, and environmentally friendly products to its members as well as the public. Located in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town has been spreading cooperatively and health food for almost three decades.

East Quad Bike Co-op

The East Quad Bike Co-op is a student-run organization promoting bicycle maintenance and sustainability.

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
970 West Eisenhower Parkway, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 | (734) 827-1938 |

They’ve come a long way since 23 outdoor enthusiasts who shared a love for the outdoors formed REI as a co-op. Today, they are the nation’s largest consumer co-op with more than 3.5 million active members and 10,000-plus employees. They credit their continued success and trusted reputation to their dedicated employees who work each day to share their interests, friendly expertise and passion for the outdoors with people of all levels of experience and ability.

Housing Co-ops

Arrowwood Hills
2566 Arrowwood Trail, Ann Arbor MI 48105 | (734) 665-3116

Townhouses in cooperative community. 1-4 bedrooms. Rent based on income.

Colonial Square
3012 Williamsburg, Ann Arbor MI 48104 | (734) 971-5710

Townhouses in cooperative community. 1-3 bedrooms. Market rate co-op housing.

Forest Hills Cooperative
2351 Shadowwood, Ann Arbor MI 48108 | (734) 971-9270

306 townhouse units in a cooperative community. 1-3 bedrooms. Rent based on income.

Great Oak Cohousing
500 Little Lake Drive, Ann Arbor MI 48103 | (734) 929-6565 |

37 individually-owned, complete condominiums with 2,3, and 4 bedrooms.

Pinelake Village Cooperative
2732 Adrienne Dr, Ann Arbor MI 48103 | (734) 994-9177

Townhouses in cooperative community. 1-4 bedrooms. Rent based on income.

Sunward Cohousing
(734) 763-2177 |

Touchstone Cohousing
560 Little Lake Dr, Ann Arbor MI 48103 | (734) 663-5516 |

“Our homes exceed LEED standards to help us live lightly on the planet and conserve energy.”

University Townhouses Cooperative
3200 Braeburn Circle, Ann Arbor MI 48108 | (734) 973-1282

604 townhouse units in a cooperative community. Rent based on income.