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 8,000 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.
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.