Portland-based grocery chain New Seasons announced its purchase of New Leaf Community Market on Nov. 12. New Seasons owns 13 markets in the Portland-Vancouver area, while New Leaf, founded in 1985, operates eight stores in and around Santa Cruz. Though New Seasons publicizes values similar to New Leaf’s, some shoppers are concerned the acquisition will change New Leaf’s focus on community.
Like New Leaf, both companies are certified B-Corporations, which means they are recognized by the non-profit B Lab to meet high standards of social and economic behavior. New Seasons also gives 10 percent of its earnings back to community non-profits annually.
“New Leaf is going to continue to operate as it has been,” said co-president and New Leaf founder Scott Roseman. “It’s more of a combination [of New Seasons and New Leaf]. Legally, it’s a purchase, but we basically combined the two companies.”
New Seasons employs over 2,400 people and is recognized by B-Corporations as having an extremely equitable and progressive workplace, which Roseman names as one of New Leaf’s top priorities.
“I have friends who worked at New Seasons in Portland. It was the [best] place to work because of the way the company treats its employees,” said New Leaf shopper Colleen McLaughlin.
Roseman said the buyout will enable New Leaf to open more stores in the Santa Cruz area.
“Rather than putting ourselves in huge debt every time we wanted to expand, this [merge] was another way to do that,” Roseman said.
New Leaf is opening a new store in Aptos.
“We have some other sites we’ve been looking at within 40 to 60 miles from here that we’re excited about potentially moving into,” Roseman said.
Consequently, New Leaf may be able to reach a broader customer base, which was Roseman’s original motivation to sell the company.
“I support [the merge] if New Seasons supplies the capital they need to offer lower prices and compete against bigger chains like Whole Foods,” McLaughlin said.
New Leaf’s dedication to sustainability, its workers and the Santa Cruz community will remain unphased after the buyout.
In reference to the New Leaf location in Capitola, local shopper Shelley Reeves said, “As long as they stay here in this location, I’m good.”