Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I have to be a member to shop at River Valley Co-op?
No. Everyone is welcome to shop.

Why should I join?
There are lots of reasons to join the co-op. Some of the most immediately rewarding reasons are listed here. Perhaps the most important benefit of membership is knowing that you are a co-owner of a local business that is supporting local farmers and giving back to our community.

Are member-owners required to work at River Valley Co-op?
No, work is not a required part of membership in our co-op.

Can I still help out and participate somehow?
Yes! There are many ways to help our co-op. Volunteering is a great way to meet other members and contribute to the co-op. You can run for a seat on our Board of Directors, or join our Co-op Events and Outreach Volunteers and help plan educational community events. We also accept Member Loans from our member-owners. This is a great way to support a local business you believe in, and make a difference in the future of our community!

How does the co-op differ from other supermarkets and natural food stores?
The co-op specializes in fresh, local, and organically grown foods. It’s a great size with a total of 17,000 square feet and we describe it as "large enough to meet your needs and small enough to meet your neighbors." We have fresh produce, fresh meat and seafood, cheese and dairy, bread and baked goods, an in-house deli, a wide selection of bulk foods, and a great selection of natural and organic grocery items. A key difference between the co-op and other supermarkets is that the co-op is owned by its customers; therefore we stock the foods customers want to buy instead of the foods the manufacturers want to sell. The moderate store size makes it more shopper friendly and the local ownership gives it a local personality which makes grocery shopping fun!

What does it mean to be a "cooperative"?
A co-op is a member-owned, member controlled business that operates for the mutual benefit of all members. The International Cooperative Alliance summarized it nicely in their Statement of Cooperative Identity. View the full text here.

Cooperative Principles include:

  1. Voluntary and open membership
  2. Democratic member control
  3. Member economic participation
  4. Autonomy and independence
  5. Education, training, and information
  6. Cooperation among cooperatives
  7. Concern for community

You are invited to join the cooperative as a Member-Owner any time. Stop by the Customer Service Desk or call 413-584-2665 for more information.

What does the River Valley Co-op offer for those customers with chemical sensitivies?  
River Valley Market welcomes everyone. We want the co-op to be an accessible and welcoming place for all, including members of our community with chemical sensitivities. To make this possible we have incorporated the following practices:

• During construction, duct openings were sealed to prevent residual contamination. As part of our Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) standard, ventilation components were also protected from contamination before installation. Filters were used and changed regularly to ensure air exchange during start-up and flush-out did not contaminate the systems.

• All of our interior paints, adhesives, sealants, and other building materials contain no formaldehyde and low- or no- volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to meet LEED* air quality standards requirements. All construction materials used within the store meet or exceed these standards, within LEED and MA Code requirements.

• Our entryway floor grille is designed for capture of dirt and particulates from foot traffic.

• An air exchange system ensures a constant flow of fresh air throughout the building. (over)

• Employee orientation and ongoing education includes awareness-raising of chemical sensitivity issues. The employee dress code prohibits the use of perfume, cologne, or other highly scented body care products when coming to work.

• We ventilate space above the areas of the store where we stock body care items.

• We do not stock incense or scented candles that offend chemical sensitive patrons while they are in the store.

• Store cleaning materials are stored in ventilated janitor closets.

• We use unscented soap in public and employee restrooms and use only green housekeeping products meeting LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification requirements throughout the store.

• We use an environmentally friendly pest management system to avoid use of chemical pest controls inside the store.

What is the tobacco use policy at River Valley Co-op?

There is no smoking in any public areas on our property either inside or outside, and co-op staff are authorized to enforce this policy. Employees who smoke are limited to a using a designated location that is at least 35 feet from any door or window to the building.