How does First Alternative exemplify each one?

Open Membership

-Anyone can shop, anyone can join

-We offer payment plans for purchasing a share, allowing more people accessibility to ownership. $15 down and $5 a month or $5 down and $2.50 a month will purchase a share.

-Anyone who pays the share price becomes an owner, without regard to any specific criteria.

Democratic Member Control

Owners are active in:


Serving on the Board where they:

  • Provide a vision that affect the way our Co-op operates
  • Supervise our General Manager
  • Serve on committees of the Board

Member Economic Participation

- Buying an Owner Share

- Spending grocery dollars at our store

- Enjoying the economic benefits of Owner Sale Day discounts, coupons, Owner Specials and patronage dividends

- Ability to capitalize expansions and store improvements

Autonomy and Independence

- Decisions are made within the co-op; not controlled externally by another organization or parent company. We participate in the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), but final decisions on programs offered to us are up to our individual co-op.

Education, Training and Information

- We educate our community and share information through

- Our FA Thymes monthly newspaper

- Our community demo booth

- Signage and resources in our store

- Community classes

- Speaking engagements at local businesses and schools

- We provide ongoing training for our staff and our Board of Directors both on- and off-site. helping us all to be better employees and Co-op owners.

Cooperation among Cooperatives

- As a member of NCGA we have more buying power and are able to offer sale prices to our customers. We also have access to marketing and merchandising materials as well as a multitude of ideas to make our business better.

- We also belong to the National Cooperative Business Association,  which provides us with opportunities to network  with other cooperative managers and learn and train with each other.

- Through the Cooperative Grocers Information Network we have access to resource libraries, tools to help our business, and list serves where we can communicate with other people in similar positions to glean ideas and receive support.

- When another of our NCGA cooperatives needs help, we offer financial help, staff support, resources and tools, etc. to help them through a rough spot.

Concern for Community

- Our Product Selection Guidelines makes certain that we offer healthy, clean foods to our shoppers, thereby helping to protect the health and nutrition of our community members

- Our donation program gives donations to local non-profits and small organizations to help with expenses, events, and day-to-day operation. These are generally in the form of $30 gift cards that can be used for silent auctions, as gifts, to purchase food for the event, etc.

- We send over $13,000 per year to our local schools through our shoppers. Any owner may tie their owner number to a local school and 1% of all of their purchases will be sent to that school. Any shopper may use a school number in place of an owner number at the register and 1% of their purchase will be given to the school they choose. We also offer Round Up for Schools to all of our customers, allowing them to add money to their grocery bill, all of which goes straight to the school.

- In March 2011 we offered a Cash for Schools owner drive, where we donated 10% of equity paid on new and existing owner shares, to a school of the owner’s choosing.

- Our Beans for Bags program protects the environment by rewarding people who bring their own bag to the store and reaches to our community with the funds collected through that program. You bring a bag, we give you a bean, you decide which organization gets the bean and we turn that bean into a nickel. This program gives over $8000 to local community organizations

- Our sustainable business practices protect our local environment. Our Co-op supports Corvallis’ Sustainability Coalition both financially and with personnel. Many of our staff serve on action teams to help make Corvallis a more sustainable city and we offer the use of our meeting space, free of charge, to the action teams, whether our staff serve on that particular committee or not.

- We offer a free community demo booth that we take to events, where we offer free food samples and Co-op information.

- Our extensive recycling center offers a place for the community to recycle many items that are not accepted at our local refuse company. In conjunction with our local refuse and recycling partner, Allied Waste, we provide recycling for commingled items, cardboard and glass. We also accept all types of hard and soft plastic, Styrofoam, wine corks, batteries, scrap metal, freezer containers, eyeglasses, cell phones, agricultural plastics and twine and truck these items to locations where they can be recycled or reused.

- Our 3 Waters Demonstration Project educates our community on ways to collect and use rainwater, keeping thousands of gallons out of the wastewater system each year. The project’s name refers to consumers’ contributions to the city’s water system – waste, tap and storm water. The project is involving our community as it is being accomplished with volunteer labor, donations of glass for pavers, and artwork done by the Corvallis Waldorf School students.

We are members of:

Chamber of Commerce

Corvallis Independent Business Association

Downtown Corvallis Association

Corvallis-Benton County Library

Corvallis Arts Center