New Leaf Market – Green Bay, WI

New Leaf Market Green Bay

New Leaf Market is startup co-op in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on the way to becoming a full-service, member-owned, cooperative grocery store featuring local, healthy and fair-priced food for the community.

The idea for New Leaf Market Cooperative arose in 2008 from a group of people who were interested creating new local food enterprises that would accomplish several goals at the same time:

1) Improve people’s health by better access to healthy food
2) Expand the market for the products of local growers and food producers by more direct connections to local customers
3) Expand the local economy by encouraging new local food enterprises and by creating good jobs
4) Enhance the economic and cultural vitality of the greater Green Bay area
5) Educate people about the relationships between good food and good health
6) Sustain the health of the environment and natural resources.

Calling their model the Downtown Food Project, they envisioned four parts to it: a grocery cooperative, a commercial kitchen to be shared by the grocery and food micro-enterprises, a wholesale brokerage for local growers and producers, and an educational facility for classes on nutrition, cooking, gardening, etc. They conceived of the Downtown Food Project as organized into two organizations—a cooperative grocery store that would feature a shared kitchen and local food and provide an educational service to consumer and an umbrella non-profit organization that would generate funding for services to underserved communities and continuing education and would foster new project development.

From the first phase of visioning and feasibility and interest studies, New Leaf Market Cooperative officially started its planning and organizing phase in Oct. of 2010 with a press conference announcing the member-ownership drive. That same winter we developed Green Bay's first ever New Leaf Winter Farmers Market to demonstrate the potential of New Leaf Market to promote local farmers and food entrepreneurs and to circulate food dollars locally. In April of 2012, New Leaf Market Cooperative contracted with CDS Consulting and the National Cooperative Grocers Association to move us from planning and organizing to implementation.

By 2013, New Leaf Market had a professional market analysis of various downtown locations, a business plan with pro forms financials, a member loan investment prospectus, legal representation, website and social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, bank accounts and accounting system, and member-owner database. However, several factors made it difficult to secure a downtown Green Bay site:

1. A market analysis of downtown sites projected relatively low sales per sq. ft. due to market demographics of relatively low median income and lower educational attainment.

2. To be profitable any downtown Green Bay site had to be on a high-traffic-count street with easy exit and entrance, high visibility, 50 surface parking spaces, and a 12,000 sq. ft. building. Despite efforts to locate such a site, there were very few that met these criteria. Additionally, some sites were too expensive, with complex parcels and two or more owners. Some had no existing building and would require new construction, which added to the costs.

3. Since the co-op is a startup business without personal guarantees, banks are reluctant to bear the risk until your co-op can find other sources of financing to cover substantial portions of the total project costs.

4. To secure such non-bank financing to for the first site, New Leaf Market Co-op tried working with a non-profit organization to create a mission-driven social enterprise to address the needs of the downtown food desert. However, before the capital campaign could reach its goal, one of the necessary parcels was sold.

5. New Leaf Market Co-op also sought to partner with a developer at another site, but he was not able to pull together the properties he needed to make this project work.

With the goal of ultimately being able to serve the whole community and area, in 2014 New Leaf Market began to look outside of downtown Green Bay with a new market analysis. This analysis identified a location in De Pere at the top one.

The current location in downtown De Pere has favorable market demographics, ample parking, is on a high-traffic count street with good visibility, and it has an existing building. For this site, New Leaf Market Co-op has received a WEDC grant, a City Revolving Loan and a County Revolving Loan as well as bank support with a USDA loan guarantee.

New Leaf Market is a CGN Startup SEEDLING member—working towards having "doors on the store."

Location Hours
New Leaf Market Co-op – main
not yet determined
Green Bay, WI 54302

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