Seattle’s Central Co-op and Tacoma Food Co-op are merging, and the new enterprise’s workers are now eligible to join the ownership ranks.

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Seattle’s Central Co-op and Tacoma Food Co-op are merging, and the new enterprise’s workers are now eligible to join the ownership ranks.

The two co-ops began exploring a merger in the fall to gain greater buying power and share administrative costs.

Leaders at Central Co-op, which opened on Capitol Hill in 1978, said the store’s financials are strong but its current site limits its growth potential. It currently has more than 13,000 member-owners and about 130 employees, and makes nearly $25 million in sales each year.

The smaller Tacoma Food Co-op, which opened in 2011, has 2,300 member-owners and logs just under $2 million in sales. It has struggled with delivery schedules and limited buying power, according to the co-ops’ news release. It has about 12 employees.

The two co-ops’ members and board voted this month in favor of the merger, which will be official Monday. No layoffs will result.

The combined operation, to be called Central Co-op, will allow store employees to join consumers as owners.

Worker-owners who choose to pay an equity stake of $6,340 (which can be paid over time) will now split 50 percent of the net income available to pay dividends. Consumer-owners, who pay an equity stake of $100 to join, will split the other 50 percent.

The amount each consumer-owner gets depends on dollars spent, while the amount each worker-owner gets depends on hours worked.