BriarPatch grew sales 11 percent last year, mails $199K in dividends

Dividend vouchers totaling $199,000 were mailed to owners of BriarPatch Co-op Community Market of Grass Valley in mid-May.

“Co-ops have a unique dividend system in which the Board of Directors, after consideration of the previous year’s finances and anticipated future needs, may approve giving money back to owners,” said General Manager Chris Maher.

“This system allows us to run a fiscally responsible business and to return profits to owners when we are in a position to do so, as we were this year,” Maher said.

BriarPatch’s sales grew 11 percent in 2014, compared to 2013.

The decision to distribute dividends to owners was approved by the BriarPatch Board at their April meeting, following a review of the co-op’s finances. Some 5,800 owner-households qualified for dividend vouchers, which ranged in amount from $2 to $503, based on the household’s total purchases at BriarPatch during 2014.

The 2014 disbursement was the sixth consecutive return of profits to owners since BriarPatch adopted the patronage dividend system in 2008.

“BriarPatch owners’ return on investment was excellent, all things considered,” said Maher. “Owners received this dividend, as well as other benefits including shopping trip discounts and the pride of being part of a larger network of support and sponsorship benefitting community groups and events.”

The patronage dividend system is unique to co-ops, said BriarPatch Board President Alan Weisberg. “We differ from most businesses in that the profits don’t go to a small number of owners, or to stockholders whose share of the business varies according to their investment,” he said.

Co-op owners invest $20 twice a year, reaching “fully-paid” status when the total investment reaches $200. Each owner household has one vote in electing the Board of Directors.

(Photo: Jim Beckett)

—BriarPatch Co-op

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