Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a cooperative?
A cooperative is an officially recognized type of organization. New Leaf Market Cooperative is incorporated under Wisconsin Statutes 185. In a cooperative many people come together to create a mutually beneficial organization. The people who purchase a member-owner share are the owners of the cooperative. When the New Leaf Market Cooperative has net savings, some of it will be returned to the member-owners, and some will be reinvested in the store and community. It is a democratic organization; all member-owners have a voice and are encouraged to use it, by attending membership meetings and by voting. Each member-owner has one vote. The everyday management of the store will be in the hands of the General Manager, who is hired and supervised by the Board of Directors of New Leaf Market Cooperative. The member-owners elect and run for the Board of Directors. The rules for the elections and democratic decision-making for cooperative are written in its by-laws. The member-owners write and approve the by-laws and any amendments to them.
When you purchase a member share, you are investing in the future of New Leaf Market Cooperative. Like other investments, you are putting your dollars at risk because you think the benefits will be worth it. You want to make sure that your dollars are being used responsibly and in your interest. In a cooperative, you have a voice in how the cooperative is managed, what level the membership share should be set at, and what investments the cooperative should make in the future.
Cooperatives operate according to seven basic principles. Six were drafted by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in 1966, based on guidelines written by the founders of the modern cooperative movement in England in 1844. In 1995, the ICA restated, expanded and adopted the 1966 principles to guide cooperative organizations into the 21st Century.
Voluntary, Open Membership: Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control: One member, one vote.
Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. The economic benefits of a cooperative operation are returned to the members, reinvested in the co-op, or used to provide member services.
Autonomy And Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
Education, Training And Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, regional, national and international structures.
Concern For The Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.
2. Why should I join New Leaf Market Cooperative?
You and the other founding members are investing in the establishment, financial success, and long-term sustainability of New Leaf Market. When you become one of the founding members, you help make New Leaf Market a reality.
When New Leaf Market makes a profit, you may reap refunds, based upon your patronage of the store. You will also receive discounts on special items and events.
You get to participate in the cooperative management of the store by electing and running for the Board of Directors and by shaping New Leaf Market by-laws and policies.
You invest your dollars in developing the local and regional economy.
You are one of the people who help put the vision of New Leaf Market---healthy people, a vital community, a robust economy, and sustainable natural resources—into practice.
3. What kinds of products can I purchase at New Leaf Market?
New Leaf Market will be a full-service grocery store featuring locally grown and prepared foods as well as foods produced using organic and sustainable agricultural practices. New Leaf Market will also have a deli for quick healthy lunch or dinner. It will also carry personal health and beauty products and household cleaning supplies.
You will also find your favorite and familiar grocery items and sought-after speciality foods, like gluten-free products.
4. When will New Leaf Market open?
New Leaf Market is currently working on securing a site in downtown Green Bay. When we have a site, the public phase of the capital campaign will begin, and the store will open about one year later. You can make it happen by joining New Leaf Market.
5. Who can shop at New Leaf Market?
Everyone can shop at New Leaf Market. You don’t have to be a member-owner to enjoy the high quality food and fair prices at New Leaf Market.
6. How will New Leaf Market sustain natural resources and the environment?
New Leaf Market will promote the use of sustainable products, energy efficiency, and conservation in the products that it offers and the construction and operation of the store. Ultimately, it is up to the members to ensure that this vision is put into practice.
7. Where will New Leaf Market be located?
The plan is to be centrally located in downtown Green Bay with good parking and public transportation access. One of the goals of New Leaf Market is to contribute to the revitalization of downtown. The exact location will depend upon property availability at the time and the size of the grocery cooperative in square footage and number of members.
8. What is the price of a membership share in New Leaf Market Cooperative?
The price of membership share is $180. Purchasing a membership share means that you are one of the member-owners of the cooperative with the right to vote for the Board of Directors, adoption of by-laws, and policies. The membership share price is not an annual fee. Rather, it is more like the purchase of a share of stock--in this case, however, the stock is only traded on the books of the cooperative and does not generate a dividend. The $180 is the price of a full membership share until and unless the cooperative decides to change the membership share price at some future date.
Because they wanted to bring many voices to the table early in the development of the cooperative, the Interim Board of Directors decided to allow certain select populations to purchase an annual membership share for $45. Those select populations are currently enrolled student 18 years of age or older and FoodShare recipients. After five years of purchasing annual membership shares, the purchaser will have a full membership share with no further payments. After the store opens, we may decide as a cooperative to allow everyone to purchase a membership share on a payment plan. At this point, however, we do not have the administrative capacity to offer this option.
9. How was the membership share price determined, and how much do we need to raise to make New Leaf Market a reality?
The membership share price was determined by two factors. The first was a survey of food co-op membership share prices in Wisconsin and nearby states. We focused on recent startup cooperatives. The price was as high as $250 and as low as $50. The other factor was the amount we need to support the membership equity share of the total cost of the project. Our Finance Committee has determined that we need about 2.5 million dollars, half of which would come from non-bank sources. Membership share equity is one of those non-bank sources.
10. What will happen to my membership share if we can’t raise the funds needed to establish the store?
Your $180 is a share in the member-ownership equity of the New Leaf Market. Our business plan is based upon having 1500 members by the time of the store opening. By that point we will definitely have the funds we need to establish and operate the co-op; so the refund question doesn't come up at that point. However, it does come up at an earlier key decision-making point, which is around 600 members. We are planning to seek bank financing based upon that 600-member number, along with other forms of funding such as fundraisers, grants, donations, support from the city, and, of course, our membership equity. If we decide that we cannot raise the funds needed to make New Leaf Market a reality, then we will return the member equity to the members (minus whatever administrative expenses have been incurred--e.g. credit card and Paypal usage fees, postage, etc.).
So far, most of our startup funding has come from donations and grants; we have also begun to tap some of the member-owner equity funds to pay legal and consulting expenses.
If the founding members decide that we cannot raise sufficient capital, any accumulated grant and donation funds above and beyond the member equity, cannot be paid as dividends on membership equity shares because of our legal status as a non-profit cooperative under Wis. Statute 185. So, our Articles of Incorporation say that all surpluses (that remain after member equity shares are refunded and all our debts are paid) will go to one or more registered Wisconsin non-profit organizations.