Write Us!
We welcome your comments and give each one attention and serious consideration. Send them to or fill out a Customer Comment form in the Owner Resources area. Each month a small selection is printed in the Reader. The rest can be found in the commons or in the binder near Customer Service. Thank you!

SMALLER WILLY PACK BAGS
Q: Could you please produce smaller bags of goji berries? You currently only offer 1 lb. bags. 1/4 lb. and 1/2 lb. bags would be cheaper and very appreciated.

A; I will send this request to our packer. You should expect to see smaller packages soon. Also, all items in the Willy Pack section are considered bulk. If you want a smaller quantity, ask an employee and we will be happy to rebag it in the quantity you want. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. –Jim Green, Bulk Buyer

THIRD STORE SUGGESTION
Q: If you are really planning a third store, I’d like to suggest that continuous growth is a bit too capitalistic. Why not lower prices instead?

A: Thanks for your question. We are considering a third location to better serve our 32,000 Owners and maintain a thriving cooperative in the face of changing dynamics in the grocery marketplace. Whether or not we open a third location will have little bearing on our product pricing. We share your frustration with the high cost of quality food. We strive to pass on the best market price possible for the quality of food we provide while doing our best to be a business that supports its community and employees. We control costs via pooling our purchasing power with National Cooperative Grocers Association members to get nationally distributed brands at competitive prices; carrying low-priced conventional and bulk-packed items; offering natural staple products at our Everyday Sale Prices; selling discounted produce that is ripe and ready to go; providing classes on how to save by shopping in bulk and by preparing easy meals from scratch; giving a 10% discount on case size orders of regular prices products; and enrolling eligible Owners in our Access Discount program.

We published the results of our FY 2013 audit in our annual report located at www.willystreet.coop/files/ANNUAL_2013.pdf. It showed the Co-op netting a profit of 2.04%, some of which was returned to Owners via patronage refund store credit, and the rest was retained as investment leverage for long-term Co-op goals. After cost of goods, wages and benefits accounted for 25.01% of our expenses. All other operating, occupancy, governance, promotional and administrative costs account for 8.87%. We hope that this information helps you understand more about our operations. As always, if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. –David Waisman, Director of Finance & Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Produce juicing
Q: Would like to see you able to juice anything from produce as this is a powerful health tool.

A; Thanks for writing. Because we’re unable to track portion and cost for the entire produce section in beverage use, we cannot sustainably offer this option at this time. We do sell juicers, however. Best, Josh Perkins, Prepared Foods Director

Farm Tour
Q: Will there be an annual farm tour in fall of 2014? Date? Thanks.

A: Thank you for your interest in our annual farm tour, which we will, indeed, be hosting again in 2014. We start our planning mid-spring as farmers often do not know when would be the best time to host a tour any earlier in the year. A date for 2014 has not been set as of yet but when it is set, we will make an announcement. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Thanks for chipping
Q: I’m overflowing with gratitude and must share. Thank you to Willy Street Coop for supporting the CHIP program. Thank you to anyone who makes CHIPping a habit. And thank you to those who CHIP when they can. As an employee of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, one of the many wonderful organizations that receives the benefit of your CHIPs , I can tell you first-hand how much that extra support means. Your CHIPs make it possible to spend more of our time and resources working directly on the mission—in our case, protecting Wisconsin’s air, land, and water. Plus, it means a lot to know how much the community supports the work we do everyday. Thanks all around!

A: Thank you so much for your message. We are really proud and honored to be such an integral part of Community Shares of Wisconsin. In FY 2013, CHIP contributions exceeded $220,000. We really appreciate hearing from organizations like yours that our patrons are making a difference. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Gender neutral bathrooms pro
Q: Consider this scenario:
You are second in line for the bathroom. The Women’s bathroom becomes available and yet the woman standing in front of you turns to you and says “Please, go ahead and take this one.” You look at her confused and respond “Are you sure? I don’t mind waiting.” She insists you take the Women’s room and so you oblige her. The Gender-Neutral bathroom then becomes available and she hurriedly steps forward to take it. For the simple, private act of needing to use the bathroom, we have just forced this coop member to establish herself as “other.” Labeling all three bathrooms as “Gender-Neutral” would solve this problem.

Of course, she could have chosen to take the Women’s room when it opened up; likely no one would have batted an eye. It’s not always that simple, though. Imagine stepping into a multi-stall bathroom and getting frightened or disgusted looks because people think you are the “other” and don’t belong in their bathroom. You have to make a decision at that point to ignore them and be who you are, or leave the room in order to avoid the looks, or worse, a confrontation. Now you arrive at the Co-op, a place you feel you can breathe a little easier, a welcoming establishment, where you are an owner and truly have opportunities for input in the direction of the Co-op. You need to use the bathroom and see that the three rooms are all labeled “Gender-Neutral”. You will not be forced to “choose,” you will not be forced to “come out” as anything other than a person who needs a bathroom. It’s your business.

I applaud the Co-op for the forward-thinking in establishing the Gender-Neutral bathrooms. At first, I was a little disappointed myself, having the opinion that I don’t want to use a bathroom that men have used, (sorry, men!). But after doing a little research on this issue and reminding myself of times I have noticed those shocked looks when I stepped into a women’s bathroom, I have changed my opinion on this subject. The Willy Street Co-op is a leader in challenging us to look at things in a new way; promoting the value of local foods, organics, empowering us to be more involved with our personal health, and now making a safe space for people who identify, or choose not to identify, their gender. Thank you again to the leadership and staff at the Willy Street Coop; you do impressive work!

A: Thank you for your thoughtful comments about gender neutral bathrooms. We strive to be an inclusive organization that values the identity and safety of all of our patrons. We appreciate your support and we look forward to all of us enjoying our fully remodeled store. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Gender neural bathrooms con
Q: Like the letter writer in this month’s Customer Comments I don’t recall being solicited for input on the bathrooms, but would also ask that we retain the standard practice of gender separate bathrooms. As suggested, if it is a matter of accommodating various gender identities, why not have one that is neutral? That would also speak to the wish to shorten waiting times. The assurance that the new bathrooms will not include urinals is really no comfort. The toilet seats in gender neutral public bathrooms are so commonly left up that many women would prefer the sight of a nearby urinal in hopes that the guys would prefer it to using the commode. Thanks!

A: Thanks for writing us. Much of the input we received in favor of gender-neutral bathrooms came from write-in comments, comments on multiple Owner surveys, and staff feedback. Many cities and businesses are adopting gender-neutral bathrooms as ordinance and standard practice, including other businesses in the Willy East neighborhood. Gender-neutral bathrooms benefit several groups of people including parents with differently gendered children, people who necessitate an attendant in the bathroom who may be of a different gender, and gender nonconforming people. They also create greater efficiency and reduce wait times when there is not a lot of space for bathrooms. Our Co-op values the time, presence, health, and safety of all of our patrons. Having three bathrooms labeled for two gender identities and one non-gender conforming can lead to an imposed feeling of otherness, and will not be as efficient as simply making all of our bathrooms gender-neutral. Restrooms are monitored by staff throughout the day for cleanliness and we also plan to have signage in the bathrooms reminding all patrons to put the seat down. We hope that our patrons will be respectful and tidy when using the bathrooms regardless of their personal needs or how they identify. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

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