When we hear the words “Main Street,” it tends to refer to a story of decline. The rise of big boxes—and now platforms like Amazon—seem to be making a world in which consolidation is the norm, and small, local, creative business is a dying breed. But there is a force that stands against that trend: purchasing co-ops. Their members are typically not individuals but small businesses that join together in order to survive and thrive.
Purchasing co-ops often lurk in the background, so end consumers don’t notice them, but they they make possible businesses like Boulder’s McGuckin Hardware, as well as Dairy Queen and Best Western. We speak with two Boulder-area leaders of remarkable young purchasing co-ops. Allison Morris is president of the Veterinary Cooperative, which serves independent vets, and Stephen Irvin is president of Amicus Solar, which serves local green-energy utility companies. With modest staffs and budgets, and after only a few years, these co-ops have already transformed the markets in which they operate.
The Co-op Power Hour is a monthly production of the Colorado Co-operative Study Circle. It airs on the fourth Thursday of every month at 6pm on It’s the Economy.