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Community Co-op Market Caring For Community In Tallahassee

Community Co-op Market

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:43 am

Founded on Jan. 1, 2020, Community Co-op Market in Tallahassee, Florida, is on a mission to provide residents of the capital city and beyond access to healthy food. 

The store is one of two grocery co-ops in the state, according to CEO Troy Bond. Community Co-op Market was aided by National Co-op Grocers to help bring the store to Tallahassee following the closure of another co-op that had been in the community for more than 20 years. 

“They felt that it was important that this town, this community, had a source for natural foods and also local products,” Bond said. 

The 16,000-square-foot store offers a produce department, bulk products, dairy, alcohol, frozen and package grocery, as well as a full-service meat and deli department. The grocer prides itself on local offerings, which it has been working to expand. Within the past year, Community Co-op Market has increased its local offerings to 16 percent. 

“We want to continue to do that. Our goal was at least 10 percent. It’s done well. I think our goal now will be trying to get to 20 percent,” Bond said. 

The company also works to fulfill customer requests. Bond offered an example within the meat department.

“We have some people who really want things like bison, elk – you name it – different wild game products,” he said. “People will ask for those kinds of things, and we actually have a lot of smaller producers.” 

Bond said the grocer considers its local area within 400 miles. 

Community Co-op Market
Troy Bond

“Basically, all of Florida, parts of Georgia and Alabama. And we have a lot of folks that are looking for those kinds of products, and we source them,” he said. “We may not always have them in stock, but we will definitely bring them in if that’s what a customer wants.

“We have a lot of products that we keep in the freezer that are more perishable. We can’t have ground bison every day.”

For customers seeking natural, healthy or meat-alternative items, the retailer has a wide variety. Bond said CCM is a great resource for customers working within dietary restrictions. The wellness department is one of the best areas for customer service.

Marrian McQueen, Community Co-op Market’s wellness manager, has been working within the co-op space since New Leaf Market, the previous co-op grocer in Tallahassee. 

“She’s got a very robust client base and is a real resource for people who are looking for supplements,” he said. “The wellness department is one of the best in the store in terms of variety and customer service. Customers really appreciate the space and the service she provides.”

Bond continued by noting how customers gravitate to the grocer for its natural products to help manage chronic conditions or maintain specific diets. The company also offers a variety of vegan options – both on the shelves and in its prepared foods. 

As for the company’s hot bar, he said customers appreciate the variety of local favorites in regular or vegan varieties. 

“That’s why our hot bar always features a meat and also a vegan option,” he said. “If you want to come and you want a protein, you can get a meat protein or you can get a vegan option. One of the more famous ones here is oxtail.

“Every other Wednesday on our hot bar, we have an ‘oxtail day.’ It’s often our biggest day of the week at the hot bar, but we also make ‘mock tails.’ They’re made from seitan and cooked in the same flavors.”

Other vegan options include dishes such as barbecue tempeh and vegan stuffed poblanos, among others. Community Co-op Market’s prepared foods also include a grab-and-go deli case with salads, sandwiches and wraps; a juice and smoothie bar; soup; pizza; and in-house made sushi. 

The grocer is community driven. Alongside its extensive work with charity organizations, Community Co-op Market has a container reuse program. Customers can bring their own containers to buy regular foods like nuts, cereals, flour or other items in bulk. They can also buy essential oils and soups in bulk. 

According to the co-op’s website, there are three steps to the process: pick a product; fill a bag; and record the PLU#.

Customers can also reduce waste by bringing their own clean, reusable glass, plastic or metal containers. The bulk department offers a station with a scale, free masking tape and felt-tip pen. 

Bond said that he brought the program from a previous co-op and it’s become quite popular. 

“We have somebody [in the community] who is kind of anti-plastic,” he said. “She’s kind of a leader in the community, and she’s let everybody know to shop here. Avoid more single-use plastics. It’s been growing.”

Children are encouraged to take part in the grocery shopping experience. Community Co-op Market Co+op Explorer offers a free piece of fruit to kids ages 12 and younger who take part. To participate, parents need only to find the Co+op Explorers Fruit basket. Near the basket will be a sticker that kids can take to signify membership. Community Co-op Market also offers downloadable activity sheets and coloring pages on its website. 

Likewise, the grocer hosts a monthly educational experience in the cafe’s seating area. 

“It’s great for parents. They can bring their kids to our cafe seating area, and they’re entertained and educated for an hour as they do, ‘Kids Can Cook,’” he explained.

“They prepare a little meal that’s simple. Over the summer, we’re transitioning to ‘Kids Can Craft.’ We’re going to have fun with different crafts. We actually have professional teachers that we pay to actually work with the kids.

“They oftentimes will read a book to the kids that ties in with the food they’re making. Parents love it because they can drop their kids off. They can go shopping, enjoy an hour on a Saturday morning, and their kids are being taken care of.”

For adults, Community Co-op Market offers its monthly community art series. The series features a local artist each month. Artists can submit their applications and samples of their work to be featured on the grocer’s wall. 

Later this month, it is holding an event for community members to meet Natalie Wise, June’s featured artist.

The grocer also has a continuous round-up campaign, Change for Community, benefiting a variety of nonprofits. In 2022, Community Co-op Market collected $15,619 in donations, including more than $2,000 for The Kearney Center, a nonprofit combating homelessness; more than $1,500 for the Tallahassee Food Network; more than $1,600 to the Damayan Garden Project, a food insecurity organization; and nine other groups.

Each month, co-op members chose a different beneficiary. May’s organization was Tallahassee Bail Funds.

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