Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op

201 Ethan Allen Ave., Takoma Park MD 20912

301-891-COOP (2667)

Open 8 AM - 10 PM, 7 Days a Week

TPSS Co-op

General Manager Notes

I am your current general manager and in the spirit of sharing the distinction of co-operatives I will periodically write in response to questions and comments I hear in the store. To begin I decided to start at the beginning, our bylaws.

Since TPSS Co-op doesn’t act like a corporation many assume we’re a non-profit, but in fact, we are legally organized as a corporation. We pay federal and state income taxes! TPSS is a cooperative incorporated under Maryland law and governed by specific cooperative corporate state statutes. The difference of being a cooperative corporation is significant because unlike a typical one our members own us, have one share, and one vote. It’s a powerful distinction because it speaks to the reason why we exist. We exist for the purpose of serving member needs, not for the financial gain of an owner or other investors. TPSS doesn’t exist for the benefit of a few; our purpose, as stated in our bylaws is:

“to serve members’ and community needs by providing an affordable alternative source of wholesome food, high quality products, and community resources in an atmosphere of fairness and mutual respect among members, staff and customers, for the primary and mutual benefit of its members.”

With that purpose it’s not surprising some consider us a non-profit, but part of the Co-op’s beauty is how it serves the members by being a business, being its own economic engine to fund our purpose. This is why along with the privileges of membership there is the responsibility patronizing the Co-op. The cooperative model works if the members support it with the pooling of equity shares and by shopping at the Co-op.

Another unique aspect of a co-op is the way in which it’s governed. Typically in corporations the business is owned by an individual(s), another business entity, or is publicly traded and owned by a group of investors. In consumer food co-ops it’s all the members who own it, equally. While it doesn’t mean a member can come in and tell an employee what to do, it does means members organized its existence and through their bylaws they control the co-op. The TPSS bylaws state:

“The business and affairs of TPSS Co-op shall be managed under the direction of a Board of Representatives. The Board of Representatives is an elected group representing the membership. It is responsible for ensuring the well-being, perpetuity and financial success of TPSS Co-op in accordance with the bylaws and philosophy of the organization.”

This unique aspect of governance sets the direction and tone of TPSS and is what many call The Cooperative Advantage. To make the board’s duty manageable and successful the membership recognized the need and value of hiring a general manager. This too is address in the bylaws:

“The daily operations of TPSS Co-op are entrusted to, and are the responsibility of, the general manager. The board will hold the general manager accountable for the successful operation of the business and implementation of TPSS Co-op policy. The board maintains the right to directly intervene in operations if the viability, continued success or mission of TPSS Co-op is threatened, as determined by a consensus of the board.”

To learn more about our bylaws you will find them on our website, http://www.tpss.coop/PDFs/Governance/Bylaws_Revisions_2017-11.pdf. We post other governance documents as well as board meeting minutes and the TPSS Policy Register. (More to come on that topic!) If you have questions about the TPSS bylaws please email me at gm@tpss.coop. We depend on members for the continuing success of the Co-op and all of us here at TPSS extend our thanks for your patronage.

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Interior FCU