UPDATING CO-OPS: Food cooperatives across the U.S. are making big changes — eliminating slow-selling items, spiffing up stores, identifying trends — to prepare for the arrival of a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in the neighborhood.
COMPETITION HEATS UP: Demand for natural and organic foods is growing, and so are the chains that sell such products. Whole Foods Market Inc. aims to triple its store count to 1,000. German-owned Trader Joe's has a 19-city "coming soon" list.
THE HISTORY: Modern co-ops date back to the 1970s, when customer-owned food stores were organized to provide an alternative to national grocery chains.