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!
Q: I received my copy of the Willy St. Co-op Reader in the mail yesterday (as always) and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate receiving it. We moved to Eau Claire about two years ago and I miss Madison and the Willy St. Co-op a lot (and, of course, whenever we come home to Madison a Co-op trip is always on the itinerary!) Your selection, deli items, customer service—everything is wonderful and I just wanted you to know. It’s so nice to come home from work and see your publication in the mailbox. Thank you for everything that you do.
A: Thank you. We’re happy to hear that you still want to remain an owner despite your distance from the Co-op. Have a great weekend and we’ll look forward to seeing you next time you’re in town! -Lynn Olson, Cooperative Service Manager
Q: In regards to the Metropolitan Place fiasco, none of the owners were in on the original discussions, and we had to hear about the pullout in the local media. I don’t feel I have any real stake in the Coop as an owner.
A: Thank you for your comments. After we lost out on the Monroe Street site for the second store a few years ago, we examined our process. One major factor in our not securing that site was that the process was so public-most of what we told members was quickly taken up by the media, and that made negotiations extremely difficult. With the Metro Place site, we did not disclose the locations we were looking at due to a confidentiality agreement but also to avoid the same problems. We thought, for better or worse, that this was the best way to get the site the Board determined to be the best. The concern about member input on the site came up in our meetings and we determined that the Board, elected by owners, was this representation on the site. That said, I think we’ll proceed differently in the future.
Regarding finding out about the termination in the media, I have to take part of the blame for that. We terminated the lease on Monday, March 24th, and we posted a notice in the store and the website. We put up two more posters in the store on Tuesday. On Wednesday, late in the morning, I alerted the media. (Even if I hadn’t alerted the media, it was a big story. They would’ve picked up on it by Thursday morning at the latest.) We could not have waited for the newsletter to go out to make the announcement. We could have sent out a letter, but I thought that it was too little time—by the time the media got ahold of it, maybe one-third of the members would’ve read the letter and it would’ve cost additional money.
If a letter would have helped you feel more connected, I apologize—I did not recommend sending one out.
We held Q&A sessions with the Board recently. If you have any recommendations or further questions, please let me know and I’ll take them to the Board. -Brendon Smith, Communications Manager
Q: Thank you for keeping the prices as conservative as possible during these outrageously liberal times!
A: I greatly appreciate your positive feedback. We really try to do our best with pricing, and given the fact that costs are on the rise, this has not been an easy task. Thanks for your comment. -Dean Kallas, Merchandising Manager
Q: Thank you for fulfilling a previous request to stock more of a product that was in short supply. This request is more challenging but much more important. Would you please, for our children, invest even more in renewable energy and energy conservation? I recommended Willy St. Co-op to a crew of people recently because of your solar panels. We the people need to be renewable energy producers not coal and nuclear energy consumers. (A company called Sun Edison installs photovoltaic for free in exchange for a 20-year lease to the energy profits so there is no financial reason to not enter the energy business.)
A: I will look into this further! Thank you for suggesting Sun Edison. -Anya Firszt, General Manager
Q: Could you offer sandwiches made with gluten-free bread? I understand that the whole loaf isn’t always used when preparing sandwiches. Why not keep a loaf of gluten-free bread frozen, then toast as needed pre individual request. Gluten-free wraps or buns could also stay frozen, then toast when requested. It would be nice to have more gluten-free items in deli section. Thanks!
A: Thank you for the suggestion. We are currently working on a new menu and hope to incorporate a sandwich or wrap made without gluten. For the record, since our facilities process a lot of items containing gluten, we will never be able to guarantee that there is no possibility that some gluten may be accidentally introduced—of course it would be very minimal. -Dan Moore, Prepared Foods Manager
Q: Make more Nothing Muffins each day. You often run out before 10AM.
A: Thanks for writing. We make the muffins 4 or 5 times a day. There are some times that we can’t however. If we run out around 10, the ovens are full and we currently put in as many pans as possible starting at 6am when the crew gets here. -Dan Moore, Prepared Foods Manager
Q: You used to serve tasty pesto turkey sandwiches in the deli, but it appears these are always sold out by 5PM in recent weeks. The deli counter said they could not make me one. I think that it is silly that, since this is apparently a popular item, that you don’t make more of them for the 5-6pm shoppers. Also, it is unfortunate that the Deli counter refused to make me one. Satisfying customers is the only way coops will largely succeed in America. Please consider the competition, that will gladly go out of their way to satisfy the customers.
A: Thanks for writing. The cost of basil pesto to make means we only use it on sandwiches when we have some with 2-3 days left on its shelf life. (Sandwiches have a shelf life of 1 day, so we don’t have to worry about it being past date.) Therefore the number of this item made is very limited. Sandwiches also sell much faster at lunch, so our focus is making sure our labor dollars are focused then—too many workers/sandwiches in the evening means more wasted money and more food in the garbage. Independent grocers have a much greater need to focus on their cost, labor and waste than many of our competitors and we succeed by trying to control them. -Dan Moore, Prepared Foods Manager
Q: I appreciate the work the Co-op does to provide products that are healthy and safe. Recently via a NYTimes (business section) article, I learned that products (Nature’s Gate, Kiss My Face) in various stages of use were reported to contain known carcinogens. Please reply about your policy regarding your carrying and selling these products.
A: We have posted information about these products at our Wellness aisle desk. Our hope is that by doing so our owners will have accurate information and as a result will be better educated about their options. It is important to note that this new information is the result of a study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). I believe their goal was to expose this concern and help customers understand what is happening with products in the marketplace. The USDA does not regulate person care or household cleaning products, although it may certify ingredients as organic. We feel it is important to offer choices, because not everyone can afford the “cleanest” offerings. Conventional personal care products have 1, 4-Dioxane in them as well. The goat of OCA is to provide greater clarity on what products contain and to rid the marketplace of synthetic personal care products misleadingly labeled as “organic” or “natural.” See the articles on pages 13 and 24-25 for a more in-depth looks at this issue. Thanks for your comments! -Dean Kallas, Merchandising Manager