IT TAKES ONLY $70 to own a share of the First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op, Corvallis, Ore., which now has about 7,200 owners. None of them is allowed to own more than one share.
The co-op is overseen by a board consisting of 10 owners who are elected for three-year terms. A general manager, who reports to the board, runs day-to-day operations. About 75% of employees are owners, some of whom work two hours per week.
Once per month, owners can take advantage of a 10% discount off their purchases, which over the course of the year “pays for the cost of their share,” said Donna Tarasawa, the co-op's marketing manager. A percentage of profits is also spilt up among owners, though that is typically a modest amount, she said.