Giving Back to Owners: What the East Remodel Means for You
It’s an exciting time for the Co-op, as its Willy East location undergoes its major makeover. It’s also a time of major change, which can be very challenging, not just for those planning the changes, but also the people who are expected to embrace the change. Some have referred to the remodel as akin to keeping the freeway open when it’s under construction, and yes, it certainly feels that way with traffic changes and product relocations in the store footprint, and sense of direction constantly in flux. We recently had to close the store for a brief period so we could replace the floor; that, too, was challenging for shoppers and staff alike. We appreciate our Owners’ and staff’s patience with the transition, and we promise, change has its rewards!

Greater Neighborhood Accessibility
Willy East’s transformation starts outside with a newly poured concrete walkways, a new concrete courtyard that is easier to access for those who have concerns about mobility, and a redesigned storefront with separate interior entry and exitways that allow for ease of store navigation, more space for carts, merchandising, periodicals, and a community information kiosk. The new storefront also allows for expansion of retail space and greater interior mobility.

More Prominent Juice and Coffee Bar
Did you know that Willy Street Co-op hosts the city’s only two full-service juice bars? For those who weren’t in the know, it’s true, and now the Co-op has a chance to really make that store feature shine. No more hunting for wheatgrass at the back of the store at Willy East. Folks on the way to school or work or looking for that afternoon pick-me-up will surely enjoy how easy it will be to get mostly local and organic juices, smoothies, coffees, teas and toddies all made-to-order. Don’t forget to stop by the Produce department right across the way to round out your healthy local breakfast or snack.

Owner Resources and Customer Service
When questions arise, or while waiting to receive a specially ordered beverage at the Juice Bar, make sure to check out the new Owner Resources area and read or submit customer comments. Check out some of the informational brochures available for preparing bulk items, shopping for non-GMO or gluten free products, how to become an Owner and more. See what classes are available in the Community Room and sign up at Customer Service just around the corner. Or, use our information kiosk to navigate our website and apply for Co-op employment. Do you have a specific question or are you looking for a specific product? Customer Service is right there to help in any way they can. The Willy East remodel puts Owner educational and informational needs at the fore, making it easier for all to use, communicate, and learn.

Active Sampling
Looking for ways to use a special ingredient? Or trying to find that vendor we advertised as sampling their most popular treats? Willy East’s remodel will make it easier to sample products and take in demonstrations at our new active demo station. Located between produce and our new full service cheese department, Owners will be able to get ideas for how to use favorite tools, explore foods in different ways, and try new products in a fun and exciting way. We are looking forward to sharing staff and vendor tips and tricks with you!

Expanded Cheese Department
Our Cheese department has always been full-service, but now Owners will know for sure. The new Willy East showcases our 260+ cheese offerings and the staff who know them best. A larger department also gives us room to better service the products and expand our selection. Separate from other prepared foods in the store, Owners will enjoy getting to better know our cheesemongers when asking about tasting and using new cheeses, or learning more about how to serve household favorites. Strategically placed near the produce aisle, it’s a great location to find that perfect fruit- or vegetable-,cheese pairing too. We’re looking forward to putting one of Wisconsin’s most famous products the attention it deserves.

Full-Service Meat Department
Willy East shoppers will now be able to enjoy the same meat department offerings as Willy West, complete with the ability for our East location to process and slice onsite. This will reduce the need for inter-store deliveries and bring to East the same fresh, prepared-to-order value that meat-eating Owners have enjoyed at West.

Self-Service Hot Bar
Another “hot commodity” Owners already enjoy at Willy West is coming to Willy East: a self-service hot bar. Now shoppers will have more hot meal choices each day and can customize their hot breakfast or lunch to their liking at either location.

Three Customer Bathrooms
Remember in the beginning of this article that mention of greater accessibility? Thanks to Owner recommendations, the remodel will include an additional public bathroom in the commons. All three bathrooms will be private and gender-neutral, and it is our hope that adding the additional bathroom and making them all gender-neutral will make the restrooms more convenient with less time to wait in line and more time spent doing your errands, browsing the store, or enjoying the commons. We also chose to make the bathrooms gender-neutral due to Owner input. 

Looking Forward to Late Summer?
Your staff sure is! We are really looking forward to bringing our Owners a more accessible, more efficient, and more fun shopping experience that’s easier to navigate, puts the focus on the products you love most, and helps you find what you are looking for. Thank you to our 32,000 Owners for your input, your ideas, and for supporting the remodel. We can’t wait to share the finished product with you in late August.

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