A buying club is a group of people who take advantage of their collective purchasing power in order achieve any of the following:
- Obtain lower prices
- Directly purchase from specific farms or distributors
- Share the work of organization, order handling and distribution
- Gain momentum in an effort towards creation of a storefront food cooperative
It's possible to operate a buying club as a light-weight operation, with less capital, time spent on organization, and without the expectation of daily operation. This makes buying clubs an appealing step in the satisfaction of community needs, while leaving opportunity for gradual growth towards future goals.
Buying clubs who deal with specific vendors may have access to private software to help organize purchasing and financial tracking.
Clubs operating with multiple distributors or independent farmers & vendors may benefit from the appropriate software.
Despite being potentially more simple than a storefront, creation of a successful buying club still requires substantial planning.
You'll want to think about the following:
- Who will be your distributor(s)?
- How do you determine a person's membership?
- What work shifts will you need? How will work shifts be tracked?
- How will orders be taken? Will you need software? Will that software work with the way you currently track membership?
- Buying club resource list from United
- Brief buying club guidelines from Associated Buyers
- Brief buying club guidelines from Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative
While there are as many ways to run a buying club as there are communities starting one, reading about currently existing buying clubs could help new groups get going and avoid common problems.
- Greene Hill Food Co-op's Buying Club (Brooklyn, NY) Types of Cooperatives