Patronage Refunds


photos by Holly Istas


A Patronage Refund is profit-sharing, plain and simple.

The long explanation? Patronage Refund is like a dividend. It is determined by a percentage of the Co-op’s profit from the last fiscal year. The Board of Directors allocates the total amount, and a refund for eligible Owners who were in good standing for the fiscal year in question is calculated based on their purchases, or patronage, during that year. (That means the more you purchase at your Co-op, the more of a refund you are likely to receive.) The decision to offer a Patronage Refund is made between October and March, and the announcement and distribution of Patronage Refunds to eligible Owners happens sometime in the late winter or early spring.


How does it work?

Co-ops are owned by their members. Owners buy shares in the Co-op, and the distribution of profits is based on how much each Owner spends at the Co-op, rather than on how many shares each Owner owns. The more you shop, the more you get back in Patronage Refunds. This is why it is important to show your owner card or give your owner number to your cashier when you pay. Patronage Refunds are in keeping with the third Cooperative Principle of “Owner Economic Participation.” Distribution of Patronage Refund lets Owners share in the success of our community business, and reinvestment of profits enables us to maintain the store that you love.

When will I get a Patronage Refund?

Patronage Refund distribution happen in the late Winter or early Spring, and is distributed based on the prior fiscal year's profits. In 2018, the Board of Directors authorized a Patronage Refund of $159,927 for our fiscal year that ended 9/30/2017. The refund pool was calculated by applying the ratio of 77.44% sales to Owners to our total net income of $206,511. The Board elected to return 100% of the eligible dividends to all Owners in good standing, based upon each member-owner's purchases during the fiscal year. Food co-ops rarely return more than 20%! In early March 2018, we sent Nonqualified Written Notice Of Allocations, as required by our Bylaws, to all Owners receiving a Patronage Refund. Those Refunds are available as store credits, however Owners may request cash instead.

Why was there no refund in 2017?

Because we invested in our business in fiscal year 2016. We spent our profits on the following sustainable solutions and cost-saving measures:

  • Co-operative training opportunities for staff
  • IT infrastructure upgrades
  • A modern phone system and new computers
  • More comfortable, collaborative office space for staff
  • Energy-saving refrigeration and lighting solutions
  • Larger dining areas on our patio and by the registers

I have an idea to increase patronage and profitability!

We'd love to hear from you. Fill out this simple form, and share your thoughts on how we can increase the likelihood of still another Patronage Refund in 2019!


Email Andrew Steward, Ownership Coordinator, or phone (530) 758-2667 ext. 45.

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