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The Palm Beach Post-Times SECTION F SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1976 Co -Ops Catch On There are about 500 housing cooperatives in this country with a combined membership of 490,000 families. They range in size from 50 to 100 families. Co-op City in New York is the largest with some 16,000 families. Fifteen health cooperatives provide their 400,000 members with physicians, hospitals and clinics and an emphasis on preventive medicine. Sixty-eight thousand families send children to 1,700 cooperative nursery schools. Thirty million savers and borrowers belong to 22,000 credit unions, whose combined assets total $32 billion. Their combined outstanding loans total $25 billion. There are 3,000 prepaid legal service plans, 6,000 farm supply cooperatives with 5 million member families, 1,000 rural electric cooperatives with a combined membership of 6,600,000 families, 240 rural telephone cooperatives with 750,000 member families and 300 well-established consumer goods cooperatives operate 400 facilities for their 500,000 members and account for annual sales of about $500 million. There are about 700 store-front cooperatives representing 80,000 member families selling food and household supplies for an annual retail volume of about $57 million and about 4,000 so-called buying clubs that take in another 80,000 member families for an additional $30 million in annual retail sales. Consumers Battle Soaring Prices CO-OPS held their own but the expanding housing and commodity markets that characterized the economy after the war somehow did not give the movement a push forward. Though by 1970 there were fewer cooperatives than in 1946, total membership was higher and consumer goods sales handled through consumer cooperatives was more than $400 million. The cooperative idea evoked interest and involvement from middle class Americans in general. Now the number of cooperative members on a nationwide scale has reached the 50 million plus figure. What does it all mean? Is this a .new trend, changing the economic structure of the country? What is it like to belong to a food cooperative? How well does an auto repair co-op work? Are the savings really that good? Is the personal labor involved worth it? What are the disadvantages? Where is the movement taking its members and the rest of the country? These are questions we will attempt to answer as we explore the phenomenon of the American consumer cooperator. Stember is a free-lance writer and historian. Next: Food Co-ops centuries encouraged the cooperative movement. Many Europeans brought cooperative know-how and enthusiasm to their new homes. Scandinavians from Finland and Sweden, where cooperatives were already a prominent part of national life, established 200 cooperatives in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Central Europeans settling in Ohio and Pennsylvania set up "workingmen's consumer cooperatives". The Depression of the 1930s stimulated the next wave of cooperative growth. Hard times brought farm families together to buy farm equipment and supplies and to market their crops cooperatively. The rural electrical Administration, created by the New Deal in 1935 to bring electricity to rural areas, offered low interest government loans and helped establish the first electric and telephone cooperatives. Franklin Roosevelt's administration gave a helping hand to urban cooperatives as well. Greenbelt, Md. set an example to the nation as a model cooperative housing venture with its planned, beautifully landscaped lawns, buildings and community facilities. By 1941, there were 3,100 local cooperatives belonging to 23 regional associations. During World War II, cooperatives Purchasing power for many families has Increased dramatically by membership in cooperatives. There are food co-ops, co-op schools and even co-op garages. This is the first of a series on consumer cooperatives. By SOL STEMBER The average consumer complains, but goes along with rising prices, questionable goods and less service. Purchasing power shrinks and the overall quality declines, but most of us tighten our belts and juggle the family budget. Well, maybe not all of us. According to the Cooperative League of the U.S.A., 50 million Americans are trying to cope with the economic bad weather through the cooperative movement. In other words, more than 25 per cent of the nation's population is buying food, housing, health care, legal services, electricity, telephone service, auto and lawn mower repairs, funerals, nursery school education, insurance and loans through consumer cooperatives. A consumer cooperative is an association of consumers who pool their resources and energies to buy products or services of the highest possible quality at the lowest possible cost. They may vary in size from 25 to 150,000 member families. (Sin gle people join cooperatives but most membership is counted in family units.) Some are loosely structured, others operate according to a body of bylaws and are incorporated under special provisions of incorporation laws. All true cooperatives, incorporated or not, return all earnings to their members in the form of rebates, a basic cooperative principle. Each member has a single vote. Officers are elected democratically. Policy is decided by members either through general membership votes or through elected representatives. Proponents say consumer cooperatives are more than a way of beating back the high cost of living: They are a philosophy of life and an effective way of coping with many of the problems that beset consumers. Cooperatives try not only to eliminate middle men, but also to place the control of products and services in the hands of those who consume them. The cooperative movement began in England as a revolt against the poverty afflicting the men, women and children who lived and worked in early factories of the Industrial Revolution. At first, it was based in part on the writings and philosophies of Charles Fourier, the French Utopian opened, many of them in secret locations, by other "protective unions". By 1857, there were about 700 such stores but by the end of the Civil War they had dwindled to a few. In 1913 only three remained in existence. Of some 356 similar cooperatives that came into being during the first decades of this century, only 35 managed to survive. In California, the Rochdale Wholesale Co. of San Francisco opened 51 stores throughout the state and did very well for almost 19 years. Successive waves of immigration during the late 19th and early 20th socialist, and Robert Owen, an English industrialist. The first attempt to form cooperatives as we know them today was made by an English physician, Dr. William King, who tried to persuade English industrial workers that they should own and operate their own factories and stores. American cooperatives were at first associated with early labor unions. The New England Working-man's Protective Association, formed in 1844, opened a store in 1845 that sold food to union members at prices that met the overhead and paid a return of 6 per cent on invested capital. Similar stores were '",J v Do It Yourself Save Money on House Painting By SANDRA WESLEY "The natural bristle is softer than a nylon clean surface," said Robert Cusuman poit statt writtr and it allows the paint to flow better, but the Art Paint Contractors. Pott Stttl writtr and it allows the paint to flow better, but the clean surface," said Robert Cusumano, Art Paint Contractors. Sun- UK . Ma , water in latex paints will rum a natural bristle," he added. Most paint experts recommend using a good quality brush for a good paint job. One gallon of paint will cover about 400 square feet, depending on the texture of the surface. To find out how many gallons needed, measure the distance around the house and multiply it by the height. That gives the total number of square feet. If a different color is planned for the trim, subtract from your total the area of doors and window frames. Generally, doors are about 21 square feet and windows are approximately 15 square feet. Divide the total number of square feet by 400 and the result will be the number of gallons needed Most people use latex paint. It's easy to clean, dries fast and has the least odor. The price range is $9 to $15 a gallon. "The hardest part about painting a house is the preparation," said one do-it-yourselfer. Yet paint salesmen and professional painters said the most important part of a good paint job is preparing the surface. "It will adhere better and last longer if applied to a If the exterior surface is mildewed, experts suggest scrubbing it with a mixture of three parts tri-sodium phosphate, one part strong detergent, two parts bleach and three parts warm water. Loose or peeling paint also should be removed, the edges sanded down, walls washed and spot primed before painted. A good system for painting the exterior is to begin with the main part of the house and finish with the trim, the railings, porch, steps, foundations and shutters. Inside, the walls and ceilings in the bathroom and kitchen ought to be washed before being painted, but the other rooms need only be brushed free of surface dirt. After you've filled in cracks and nail holes with putty or patching paste, you're ready to begin painting the interiors. How many coats of paint should a house have? "If it were mine, I'd give the exterior two coats," Noriega said. "If the color is not going to be changed inside, one coat will do." If it's done right, a paint job ought to last An easy way to save dollars, get exercise and feel a sense of accomplishment in the process is to paint your house. Professional painters charge as much as $800 to paint interiors and more than $500 to paint exteriors of a 1,700-square-foot house. If you paint it yourself, the savings could be as much as $1,000. The initial outlay for paint, ladder, brushes and rollers would be about $250 and there are ways of keeping the cost down like renting ladders rather than buying them for about $3 a day or $14 a week. Drop cloths to cover furniture, carpet and shrubs can be anything from old sheets or plastic to newspapers, but dealers caution that some paints will soak through sheets, and plastic can be slippery and dangerous. Processed paper drop clothes can be purchased for $1.20. Some people prefer rollers; others like brushes. The rougher the wall, the thicker the nap on the roller should be, according to Manny Noriega, salesman for Sherwin-Williams Paints. Noriega suggested a nylon bristle brush for latex paint and a natural bristle brush for oil base paints. p. tour years, he added.