First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op History

First Alternative was founded in 1970 by a diverse group of concerned citizens and Oregon State University students. They were committed to offering education for people who wanted to adopt healthier lifestyles, and to provide the community with a source of high quality, nutritious foods at the lowest possible prices. To this day, we continue to strive to be a cooperative model, providing natural and organic food in community-oriented stores.

FIRST ALTERNATIVE HISTORY TIMELINE

1969
1969

Starting Out With An Idea

Professor William Denison
The idea for First Alternative Co-op was born: a community-run place to find quality natural foods at an affordable price. Oregon State University Professor William Denison mentored a group of students who helped start the Co-op along with members of the Corvallis community.
1970
1970

First Alternative Co-op Opens

Opening Day
The Co-op first opened its doors to the public on November 23, 1970. Volunteers sold customers bulk foods: beans, rice, flour, nuts, honey, and cheese. This photograph from a Gazette Times article shows opening day at First Alternative, with customers stocking up on dry goods.
1972
1972

Co-op Moves to South Town

South Store in 1976
The Co-op moved to its current South Corvallis location on SE 3rd St. in what used to be a drive-in.
1975
1975

Produce Department Added

Pat Hazleton, Produce Manager in 1970s
In the mid-1970s, fresh produce at the Co-op was sold from a stand outside the building. By 1979, produce moved indoors, becoming part of the store.
1982
1982

Battling Challenges in the Early 1980s

Gail and Dee, doing a demo, early 80s
Unemployment, inflation, and competition from Waremart’s new bulk department flattened growth in this period.
1985
1985

Store Improvements in the 1980s

1985 First Alternative Sign
The Co-op initiated many enhancements in the eighties: exterior signage, advertising, shopping carts, and beer/wine. This photo shows the newly insta