The Riverina region of New South Wales has a history of co-operative forms of production and consumption. This paper focuses on three Rochdale rural consumer co-operatives in this region. While the paper argues that marketing the co-operatives in terms of their community links and democratic structure was important to their success over many years, it was not sufficient to ensure survival. Co-operatives found it necessary to highlight their competitive prices and the quality of their goods. They were vulnerable to changes in the rural economy that led to a decline in the local population. Their survival also depended on the quality of their management, with poor investment decisions and recruitment practices undermining profitability. Generous credit policies also undermined the co-operatives financially. By comparing the three co-operatives and their communities, this paper aims to develop a more sophisticated approach to explaining the survival and demise of Rochdale consumer co-operatives in rural Australia.