Alfalfa's Founder/CEO Mark Retzloff Departs

Mark Retzloff, founder, chairman and CEO of Boulder, Colo.-based Alfalfa's, has parted ways with the two-store natural and organic grocer in the wake of reported discord with a fellow partner.

As reported by The Denver Post, Alfalfa board member James Searcy will take over as Alfalfa's interim CEO and chairman of the board; Retzloff, 65, who is Alfalfa's largest shareholder, owns 24 percent of the company and will remain a shareholder and board member.

Retzloff's departure, which comes just two months after Alfalfa's opened its second store in Louisville, Colo., was prompted by a conflict with fellow board member Barney Feinblum, according to The Denver Post report, which quoted Rezloff as saying: "You have to have a culture where (employees) like to be at work and are cared for and respected. I had one of the other board members (Feinblum) whose style was pretty much the opposite of that. There was a conflict because of that."

Feinblum, who has been a business partner with Retzloff for three decades, staunchly disagreed, as evidenced by the remarks he shared with the local newspaper: "I don't think that was the reason at all for the decision. Mark is a visionary and a big-picture guy. But he is not as good at operating the business on a day-to-day basis."

Both Feinblum and Searcy cited the soft performance of Alfalfa's new store in Louisville as playing a role in Rezloff's departure.

The reconstituted Alfalfa's first store at Broadway and Arapahoe in Boulder, which opened on Earth Day, April 22, 2011, was featured as Progressive Grocer's Store of the Month in June 2011.

The forerunning company, also founded in Boulder in 1983, grew to be one of the nation’s leading-edge natural products retailers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With 11 stores, the original Alfalfa’s Market was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. In 2011, Retzloff, Feinblum, van Seenus and Searcy resurrected the Alfalfa’s name with the re-opening of the original Alfalfa’s at Broadway and Arapahoe in Boulder.

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