Become An Owner / Why Join?

When you become an owner of River Valley Co-op, you actually own part of the co-op. River Valley Co-op is owned and operated by people just like you - members of the community working together to build a just marketplace in the Pioneer Valley.

The motivating purpose of co-ops is to serve the needs of the owners rather than to generate a profit. When the co-op does make a profit, it is cycled back into River Valley Co-op to increase our services for the owners, or if sufficient profit is made, it is given back to the owners in the form of a Patronage Rebate.

As an owner you are investing in the start-up financing of the co-op and have the opportunity to participate in the business development process. Your equity share will last long into the future entitling you to the benefits of River Valley Co-op cooperative ownership. The co-op currently consists of over 11,000 owners - together we support our co-op to meet our mutual needs for a just marketplace in the Pioneer Valley.

Everyone is welcome to become an owner at River Valley Co-op. Ownership requires a $150 (minimum) equity investment (not an annual fee). A payment plan option is available, and we also have a low-income membership assistance program (details below). Stop by the Customer Service desk and ask for an application form, or call 413-584-2665 for more information.

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As an Owner of River Valley Co-op you will:

  • Receive coupons worth over $25 when you join, plus a thank-you coupon for 10% off one shopping trip.
  • Shop on Co-op Owner Appreciation Days and receive 10% off all purchases. (Excluding beer, wine, milk, special orders, Buying Club, and Food For All)
  • Participate in our BUYING CLUB. Save 15% or more when you pre-order by the case.
  • Save $$ with our weekly Co-op Owner Bonus Buys.
  • Become eligible for any annual Patronage Rebates declared by the Board when the co-op is profitable.
  • Invest with a Co-op Owner Loan during loan campaign periods.
  • Exhibit your art in the Cafe Gallery.
  • Join the UMass Five College Credit Union.
  • Vote in elections and other co-op owner votes.
  • Run as a candidate in Board elections.
  • Receive a subscription to the co-op newsletter.
  • Own your equity share investment as long as you choose. When/if you choose to no longer be a co-op owner, you may request to redeem it. (See by-laws for details including potential restrictions.)
  • Be part of developing and sustaining a strong local food system.
  • Have pride in keeping River Valley Co-op a vibrant, sustainable community-owned resource for years to come.

Low Income Ownership Assistance

The Low Income Owner Assistance Program gives everyone, regardless of income, an opportunity to become a co-op owner of River Valley Co-op and enjoy all the benefits of being a owner of the co-op. This program is for local residents who are committed to supporting our co-op by becoming co-op owners, but who might not otherwise be able to afford to join.

How does the program work?

An owner equity share in River Valley Co-op costs $150. Participants in the Low Income Ownership Assistance Program pay fifteen monthly installments of $5 (for a total of $75) and River Valley Co-op pays the other half of the share ($75).

The $75 paid by the program is a loan. Repayment is optional, but if you find in the future that your circumstances allow you to repay the $75, that amount will then be contributed back to the Low Income Ownership Assistance Fund to help future co-op owners.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible if you value cooperative ownership rights and responsibilities and you find that you have difficulty affording either the full $150 ownership or the $25/month installment program.

You alone determine whether you need the support of this program to become a co-op owner. The funding comes from co-op owners who have donated to the program to ensure that ownership in the co-op is accessible to everyone, regardless of income.

How may I apply?

Applications are available at Customer Service. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis and granted if funding is available.

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Resigning Your Ownership

Thank you for being an owner of our co-op. We are sorry to lose you, but if you need to withdraw your ownership, you can redeem your stock for the full amount invested, as per our bylaws. Co-op ownerships are not transferable. Please print and fill out this form or pick up a form at customer service. Refund checks will be mailed 30-60 days from receipt of form.