New Leaf Market Co-op is committed to building a vibrant and healthy local community by providing natural and organic foods and products. As a cooperative, we emphasize socially and environmentally responsible practices, and provide education and information about our products and the cooperative principles upon which we are based.
New Leaf Market Co-op sees a world in which humans live in harmony with their environment and each other. We offer an alternative approach where people and the environment come first. We learn to cooperate with each other to build something greater than ourselves. Offering wholesome foods and educating the community about products we sell is our contribution to a healthier future generation.
Like many other cooperatives, New Leaf Market Co-op originally began as a buying club to provide its owners, mostly college students and young families, with affordable, healthy food. In 1974 the buying club legally became the Leon County Food Cooperative (LCFC). On May 1, 1974 the Co-op found its first permanent home at 702 S. Macomb with only 200 owners, $1000 in capital and $260 in inventory. Just a year and a half later in 1976 the LCFC moved to a warehouse at 649 W. Gaines Street, which offered approximately 4,500 sq. ft. of retail space in addition to housing the Canopy Road Credit Union. The LCFC was staffed by volunteers and led by a three-person management team and a small Board of Directors.
The Leon County Food Co-op spent 15 years on Gaines Street refining practices, hiring paid staff and expanding product lines with an emphasis on natural and organic food. In August of 1989, General Manager Carol Wilkinson moved the Co-op to its current location at 1235 Apalachee Parkway. One year later sales had increased by almost 60 percent over the previous year. At the same time, the Co-op changed its name from the Leon County Food Co-op to New Leaf Market in an attempt to dispel the notion that co-ops were only for hippies and to appeal to the broader Tallahassee community.
The Parkway store featured a large organic produce section and a café that eventually became the deli. New Leaf Market Co-op’s yearly sales steadily increased. In 2001 sales reached $4.1 million and New Leaf Market Co-op was utilizing every last inch of its space. In June 2001, New Leaf Market Co-op acquired 1,500 additional sq. ft. from the adjacent store front and a small loan to expand the store. The grand re-opening, in March of 2002, unveiled a dazzling new store that offered more of everything: local produce, refrigerated, frozen, bulk and a brand new deli.
In 2001 owners approved two proposals; reincorporation as a cooperative and patronage rebates. Owners voted to change to a patronage rebate system from discounts at the register. Prior to 2001, New Leaf Market Co-op gave owners discounts at the register in exchange for their level of equity investment; $25-2%, $50-5% and $100-7%. Unfortunately, the discount system dispensed discounts regardless of whether the store had made a profit. The patronage rebate system assures that rebates are only returned if, and when, the store has made a profit by returning a portion of the profit based on each owner’s patronage of the Co-op. This change allowed the Co-op to pull itself out of a cycle of loss.
The second change gave New Leaf Market Co-op legal co-op status. The state of Florida prohibits retail cooperatives. From 1974 through 2000 New Leaf Market Co-op did business as a cooperative without legally being recognized as such. In January 2001 New Leaf Market Co-op reincorporated as a cooperative in the state of Minnesota.
In 2004 the Board authorized the General Manager to once again begin the expansion process. In conjunction with this decision, the Board increased the ownership fee from $25 to $100.
In 2007, New Leaf Market Co-op signed a new lease that secured 4,435 additional sq. ft. for the store, extensive building maintenance and a home on the parkway through 2021. Construction began in November of 2007 and was completed one year later.
The newly expanded and renovated store includes wider aisles, two additional checkout lanes, and additional retail space for grocery, frozen, refrigerated, and health and body care. The beer and wine department now includes 16 feet of chilled microbrews and over 300 types of organic wines. The deli menu expanded to include panini sandwiches, rotisserie chickens, smoothies, espresso and breakfast, lunch and dinner items. A fresh meat and seafood department offers all-natural meat and Fresh from Florida seafood. Come see it for yourself and enjoy the new, New Leaf Market Co-op.