By Cristin Burns, Marketing Manager
New Leaf Market Co-op has reached many milestones over the years. Multiple name changes, expansions and new product lines. Going from being the only game in town, to one of many choices for natural and organic foods. And most recently, celebrating 40 years in Tallahassee, a feat that more than once in our past felt impossible. All of this was running through my mind when New Leaf Market Co-op was named the Chamber Locally Owned Business of the Year on June 3.
It was with an overjoyed heart that I accepted the award alongside Board President June Wiaz. But the surprises didn’t end there. The final award, chosen from among the winners of the six categories, once again went to New Leaf Market Co-op. This time I was truly speechless.
As a co-op, we have a unique challenge. Giving back to the community through education, engagement and donations is fundamental to how we do business—it’s part of our vision and mission statements. The same applies for how we treat our employees and our commitment to supporting local vendors. We are not solely profit driven, but rather community driven. But bragging about all of this feels disingenuous. Finding a way to share what makes the Co-op special without sounding boastful is a continuing challenge. So it’s beyond exciting when an organization like the Chamber recognizes that New Leaf Market Co-op is not only an exceptional local business, but an example of excellence for all businesses.
We have a lot of people to thank, but first and foremost, New Leaf’s success is due to the cooperative business model. It’s the reason I work at the Co-op, and the reason why supporting our community is always at the top of our list, it’s Cooperative Principle seven!
As a cooperative—you—our owners, elect our Board of Directors. Strong leadership from past Board President Jim Terrell and current Board President June Wiaz has led to meetings with our City and County officials, and Mayor Marks declaring May 1-7, 2014 as Food Cooperative Appreciation Week. Their long-term vision and leadership sets our course.
The staff, led by General Manager Larrane Hartridge, carries out the day-to-day operations of the store with humor, hard work and smiles. Despite economic ups and downs, they are the reason customers keep coming back. We’re nothing without them.
Last but not least, thank you, Tallahassee, for supporting the little co-op that could. Your continued patronage and dedication to healthy, organic and local products is why New Leaf Market Co-op is what it is today.
These awards are something for all of us to be proud of. We invite you to take a victory lap, fist pump, or hoot in celebration. We sure did!