Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Understanding a Co-op
What is a Co-op?
How Does a Co-op Work?
What is a Co-op Membership?
Who owns the Co-op?
Who controls the Co-op?
Why do I need a Co-op Number?
Where can I purchase a Watrous Co-op Number?
Can I use my local Co-op number when I purchase from other Co-ops in other communities?

Equity and Cash Back
What is Equity?
When will I get my first refund and what period does it cover?
What happens to the Equity that is not paid out?
When does my Equity Account get paid out in full?
What purchases are included when calculating my patronage refund?
Why didn't I get a cheque in April?
How much cash will I receive?
When do I get the rest of my equity allocation?
Why don't I receive all of my allocation in cash?
Why is the allocation rate different in each department?
How will I receive my cash refund?
Why is there GST on my statement?
Why is Income Tax Taken off my Equity Balance?

Your Co-op Membership
Who can become a member?
How do you become a member?
Why do I need a Co-op number?
Why do you need to record my purchases?
Do I have to be a member to shop at the Watrous Co-op?
Do I have to give my member number each time?

Why Support the Co-op?
Why Become a Member of the Watrous Co-op?
Why should I get involved in a Co-op?
Why should I shop at the Co-op?
How does Watrous Co-op contribute to the local community?


Understanding a Co-op

What is a Co-op?
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A Co-op is a business that is locally-owned and controlled by its members and is characterized by various membership benefits. On the surface the Co-op looks much like any other local business. However, unlike other businesses, any savings generated by the Co-op are returned to members-owners, proportionate to the amount purchased from the Co-op during the year.

These members' savings accumulate as equity in each member's share account, so the more a member supports the Co-op the greater their equity can become. At the discretion of the Co-ops Board of Directors, a percentage of a member's equity may be returned back in the form of a cash refund. In any case, the money stays in the community to be used and reinvested.

How Does a Co-op Work?
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Co-operatives are guided by seven internationally recognized principles, very similar to those adopted by a small group of progressive thinkers who formed one of the first co-operatives in Rochdale, England in 1844:

1. Voluntary and open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and independence
5. Education, Training, and Information
6. Co-operation Among co-operatives
7. Concerns for Community

What is a Co-op Membership?
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A Co-op membership is a one-time investment of $10.00. As a member of Watrous Co-op, you will share in the profits of the organization. Each time you use your member number your purchases are recorded. At the end of the year, member-owners are entitled to a share in the company profits based on their purchases with the Co-op. These profits are paid out partially in equity and partially in cash.

Who owns the Co-op?
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Co-ops are locally owned by people just like you. Owners, or members, are usually regular shoppers. Co-ops are the only business where the shoppers own the store.

Who controls the Co-op?
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Co-ops are democratically controlled by local members (one member, one vote). Members control the Co-op through a locally elected Board of Directors. Members can become a Director of the Co-op by allowing their names to stand at an annual election. Members can also exercise control by attending annual meetings, by proposing or voting on resolutions, or offering suggestions to Co-op management and directors. Local control means that decisions affecting the Co-op are made locally in the best interests of the members and the community and not made by executives in far off national or multi-national corporations. Co-ops are an alternative to the growing concentration of corporate power and control.

Why do I need a Co-op Number?
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Provide your Co-op number every time you shop at the Watrous Co-op, whether it is for Food, Gas, Hardware, Agro, Cardlock etc. you will earn equity on your purchases.

Where can I purchase a Watrous Co-op Number?
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You may purchase a Watrous Co-op Number at the Gas Bar, Farm and Hardware Centre or the Administration Office. Your name, address, birth date and social insurance number are all the information required to purchase a membership.

Can I use my local Co-op number when I purchase from other Co-ops in other communities?
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No, each Co-op is independent with different policies regarding equity and cash back.


Equity and Cash Back

What is Equity?
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Equity represents your ownership share of the Watrous Co-op. Each time you purchase merchandise you give the cashier your membership number. At the end of the fiscal year (If the Co-op shows a profit) a percentage of these purchases are allocated to your equity account. This is your share of the profits of the Co-op! If you buy goods from another business this profit would go in the owner's pocket. This is the Co-op difference! The more you purchase the more you share in the profits of the Watrous Co-op. In April of each year you may receive a cash repayment of a percentage of the equity you earned in the previous fiscal year.

When will I get my first refund and what period does it cover?
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You will receive your first refund in April of the year following the fiscal year in which you joined. The Co-op's fiscal year runs from January to December. Your refund will be based on purchases you made during the previous fiscal year. For example, if you join in January 2011, you will receive your first refund in April 2012, based on your purchases between the day you joined and the end of December 2011.

What happens to the Equity that is not paid out?
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These "retained earnings" are used to finance the Watrous Co-op so that we can upgrade, operate and expand our facilities without borrowing funds from external sources (Banks, Credit Unions etc.). Eventually, this retained equity will be paid back to you in full.

When does my Equity Account get paid out in full?
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Payments of equity are made, once requested, to estates and members who have moved out of the trading area. Members may also apply for repayment starting at age 65. A written application for repayment must be completed and submitted to the Watrous Co-op Administration Department. All applications are subject to Board of Director's approval.

What purchases are included when calculating my patronage refund?
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Any purchases at The Watrous Co-op Food Store, Convenience Store/ Gas Bar, Farm & Hardware Centre, at our cardlock location or deliveries made with our Bulk delivery trucks.

Why didn't I get a cheque in April?
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The cash repayment is based on your previous year patronage allocation. If you just purchased your membership in the current year you would not have any patronage allocation yet. Cheques under $10.00 are not issued. If you have any further questions please contact the Administration Office.

How much cash will I receive?
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To calculate how much cash you receive there are two steps involved. First, you are credited with an equity "allocation". Your allocation depends on how much you spent in each department. Each department's allocation rate is different. Second, the cash you receive is calculated as a percentage of the allocation. The percentage varies from year to year. To see an example of an equity statement, please click here.

When do I get the rest of my equity allocation?
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The rest of your allocation goes into your equity account. When you move away from the trading area or turn 65 you can apply for your accumulated equity. You will receive your total equity less $10, which is retained to keep your membership active. If you apply as a moved away member, your total equity is paid out to you and the membership is closed. If you die your equity is paid out to your estate.

Why don't I receive all of my allocation in cash?
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The Co-op Board of Directors reviews the financial position of the Co-op each year and decides how much can be paid out and how much will be retained to finance operations and maintain and upgrade assets to ensure on-going success.

Why is the allocation rate different in each department?
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The allocation rate is reviewed each year and may change as a result of fluctuating market and competitive conditions.

How will I receive my cash refund?
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Your refund cheque will be first available at out Annual General Meeting. After the Meeting for 2 weeks, your cheque will be available for you to pick up along with your equity statement at the Administration office. Following the 2 weeks, all cheques will be mailed out, so it is very important that we have your current address.

Why is there GST on my statement?
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Revenue Canada treats the patronage allocation similar to a discount. Therefore, you are refunded a portion of the GST that you paid. The GST is added to your equity account. Eventually, you will get this back in cash. If you have used your purchases at the Watrous Co-op as a business expense (and have taken input credits on same) you must repay this amount on your next GST return.

Why is Income Tax Taken off my Equity Balance?
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Watrous Co-op is required to deduct 15% income tax on any patronage allocation amounts over $100.00. This income tax is remitted to the federal government by us on your behalf. You will receive a T4A in February that will show your total patronage allocation and the income tax deducted. To see an example of a T4A statement, please click here.


Your Co-op Membership

Who can become a member?
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Anyone who can use the services and is over the age of 16 can become a member. Co-ops have an open membership. Being a Co-op member means that you own a share of a business in your community.

How do you become a member?
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To become a member you fill out an application form available at the Gas Bar/Convenience Store, Farm & Hardware Centre or the Administration Office. You will purchase a one-time share for $10. You will then receive your Co-op number.

Why do I need a Co-op number?
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Having a Co-op number means you are a part owner of the business. It means you share in the earnings of the Co-op. Every time you make a purchase at the Co-op, you will be asked for your number, which is used to record your purchases.

Why do you need to record my purchases?
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Any earnings from the Co-op are distributed to member owners based on their purchases. Earnings are returned to members either as equity or cash, depending on the Co-op's financial situation.

Do I have to be a member to shop at the Watrous Co-op?
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No, but by becoming a member you become a part owner of the business and you share in the earnings of the Co-op. You can also attend annual meetings and vote on resolutions and run for a position on the Board of Directors.

Do I have to give my member number each time?
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Yes. The cashier or clerk will ask you for your membership number. You will be given a receipt which includes your membership number as verification of your purchase.


Why Support the Co-op?

Why Become a Member of the Watrous Co-op?
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Advantages to having a Membership with the Watrous Co-op
  • Gives you an opportunity to provide input in how the Co-op is run -- your membership allows participation in items and events like suggestion boxes, some exclusive marketing promotions, member relation events and annual general meetings.
  • Your membership allows you to receive equity on your purchases at the Watrous Co-op.
  • Your Co-op supports local clubs and charities (Co-op Membership Benefits) Watrous Co-op's profits stay in our community.
Why should I get involved in a Co-op? (Back To Top)

Co-ops provide an opportunity for you to learn about business, to work with other people and take advantage of training programs provided for directors and delegates.

Why should I shop at the Co-op?
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Shopping at a Co-op means much more than just meeting your everyday needs. When you shop at the Co-op you are supporting a local business and investing in your community. Any earnings generated by the Co-op are returned to our members, either as cash or equity. Until that equity is paid out, it is reinvested in the local business, improving facilities and services. We are proven to be committed to Watrous and the communities we do business in. We are a local, promotional exciting, clean and well merchandised business that is dedicated to serving you, our member. We have first rate knowledgeable staff that offers first rate service, and offer a "No-Hassle Guarantee" on all our products.

How does Watrous Co-op contribute to the local community?
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Watrous Co-op donates to a wide range of community organizations that contribute to the social, cultural and recreational needs of the community. In 2010 we donated to over 30 groups, events, organization, and community functions in Watrous and the communities we do business in. If you would like more information on requesting a donation please click here.

Copyright © 2015 Watrous Co-operative Association Ltd. All rights reserved.
Watrous Co-operative Association Ltd. Box 488, Watrous, SK. S0K 4T0 (306) 946-5510