Natural Alternative Food Co-op is a member-owned food cooperative dedicated to serving the community by being a trusted source for healthy, sustainable, fairly-produced food and goods, and educational services. We seek to promote a robust regional economy by patronizing local producers to the extent possible.
What is a Co-op?
A member-owned co-op is owned and governed by community members who purchase a membership (in the form of an equity share). In turn, the co-op business operates for the benefit of the owners and the community. Member-owners elect the co-op’s board of directors, who hire and evaluate a general manager to oversee day-to-day operations. A core set of principles (the 7 cooperative principles), our mission statement and bylaws dictate how the co-op is governed and operated.
The 7 Cooperative Principles are:
Voluntary and Open Membership
Democratic Member Control
Members’ Economic Participation
Autonomy and Independence
Education, Training and Information
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Concern For Community
Natural Alternative stands for:
Local - Providing access to healthy, high-quality food. Prioritizing local farmers and producers.
Sustainable - Highlighting food grown and produced ethically. Promoting a thriving regional economy. Providing fair wages and prices
Community - Serving the member-owners. Participating in care for the community.
Cooperation - Equality in ownership. Valuing participation, transparency and inclusion.
The story of our Co-op began in 1974 as a Grantsburg, Wi buying club. In the beginning, we were run by a core group of volunteers and had a small selection of products with a heavy emphasis on bulk goods. As demand grew and more people joined, the food operation made several moves. By 1981, we had incorporated and established an elected board of directors. In 1991 we made the big leap out of a store basement in Frederic into our current location on Main Street in Luck, a northwestern Wisconsin village of 1,100. In 2004 we became proud owners of the building!
Since purchasing the building, we've made a wide range of repairs. In 2015, with the help of many volunteers and a successful owner loan program, we remodeled and increased the square footage of the retail area and added a much needed office space and more functional food prep area. The store is now spacious and allows owners and customers a more enjoyable shopping experience.
In 2017, we began investing even more in our village and the surrounding rural community we serve by adding the Co-op Loft.
The Co-op Loft created 2,400 square feet of badly needed office and co-work space on the second floor of our historic building. This space also provides the fast and affordable internet access that can be hard to find in rural Wisconsin. Co-op owners contributed more than 800 hours of labor and $29,800 in capital for the project. Local businesses added contributions of more than $5,000 in cash and labor. We are now renting these innovative spaces! Click here for more info on the Co-op Loft. From a small group of dedicated volunteers, Natural Alternative has grown to more than 700 owners! We strive to be a premier outlet for farmers and producers, helping to keep the close connection between farmers and customers strong.
We continue to serve in the spirit of our founders by being an institution looking to serve - not take from - our community.