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GM Report

Board Report

Board Election Nomination Information

Deli News: Cheese

Produce News: Melons

Book & General Merchandise News

Nature's Medicine for Summer Fun

More than the
Sum of Its Parts

Specials Information

Mercury & Fish: What You Need to Know

Producer Profile: Cedar Grove Cheese

Ask the Midwife: Chocolate and Pregnancy

Recipes & Drink Recommendations

Willy Street Park: The Stage is Set for Summer Fun

Community Calendar






Board Report
Doug Johnson
WSGC Board Member

The diligent work (and year and a half of meetings!) by Anya and the Opportunities Committee is beginning to bear fruit for the co-op. At its March and April meetings, the board spent time discussing a report and some proposals from the committee, which presented some options for us to pursue. Our goal in this is to maintain and improve our ability to respond to the needs of our member/owners and our ability to respond to the challenges of the marketplace that may arise. The committee identified three broad topics as things that we should consider.

Offsite Kitchen

First was a proposal to develop an offsite kitchen. The deli has outgrown its prep and storage space and would benefit greatly from having larger facility; the bakery department needs a better place to work in as well. This was seen as the most immediately needed and least complicated of the proposals, as well as being a key first step in acting upon the other proposals. There are a couple more financial projections being prepared, and if those are favorable, the Board is likely to vote to present this to the membership for approval to proceed.

Remodel of Current Site
The next proposal was to look into what might be done to remodel or add on to our existing building. This will likely be a multi-year process, with the goal of improving the operations of the store and enabling us to accommodate the ever-increasing number of shoppers that we have been seeing.

Opening Another Store

The third proposal was to continue investigating the possibilities of opening another store. The grocery market in Madison has been going through numerous changes over the last few years, with stores opening and closing in various neighborhoods. Lots of people would like us to open a new store in their area, and several new grocery co-ops have been talked about or are in various stages of organizing as well. We have been providing technical assistance for these efforts and will be looking at other ways to help them succeed. We were thinking that our opening a new store ourselves was a more long-term project, likely to take longer to accomplish than some of the other proposals. We were well aware, though, that we might need to respond quickly if a good opportunity arose.

An Opportunity on Monroe Street
It may be that one of those good opportunities is now at hand. Events may quickly pass this report by, but as of the time of this writing several weeks before the publication of this newsletter, the Board has just had a special meeting, called to decide if we should submit a proposal for opening a second store. As you know, the grocery store on Monroe Street was closed several years ago and the building is still vacant after all this time. Some in the neighborhood established a cooperative to try to bring a grocery store back, but they were unsuccessful in their efforts to negotiate a deal with the property owner. Recently the property was sold to another development group, and there is again an opportunity to establish a grocery store there. This would be on the ground floor of a new mixed-use building, with residential units upstairs.

We have been working with the Monroe Street Co-op since they began, and were assisting them in their preparations to make an offer to lease the site, but it became clear that their offer wasn’t likely to be accepted by the developers without the major involvement of Willy St. The Monroe Street folks are so committed to bringing a community controlled grocery store to their neighborhood that they have offered to step back and have us open and operate the store there instead.
Many of our current members live in the Monroe Street area. We have market studies that show that the site would be a good store for us and we have cooperative specialists to help with the planning. We are in a strong position to take on a project like this, and it would be a good addition to our business. Our primary goal is to ensure the continued success of our current store however, and we won’t enter into any arrangements that would needlessly jeopardize that.

The Decision is All of Ours
Rest assured, too, that even if the new owners of the property accept our offer, nothing more would happen until you, the owners of Willy Street Co-op, have voted to approve this expansion. There will probably be a fairly quick timeline for this if it is going to happen, but we will keep you informed and there will be opportunities for your feedback as part of the process. Stay tuned! Let us know what you think as these events unfold.