Co-op shops in the early 20th century
Based on notes by the webmaster's mother (1906-2002), see sources
The Cooperative Wholesale Society and its regional divisions
Strictly speaking, all Co-op were members of the Cooperative Wholesale Society or CWS. This had regional divisions. Ours was the London Cooperative Society of LCS, but in everyday speech it was always referred to as the Co-op.
Dividend: the reason Co-op shops were so popular
Co-ops would issue chits as receipts. These were little perforated squares listing the amount you spent at any given visit to the shop. Customers had a Co-op number which was written onto each chit. Every quarter of the year the Co-op gave its customers what was called a dividend, which was a certain amount back for every pound spent.
Dividend was given on everything that the shop sold, including deliveries of milk, bread and coal. Even clothes and shoes could be bought at the larger Co-ops. Shoes were sold under the brand name of 'Wheat sheaf'.