Two Down, One To Go
It was six years ago that the Opportunities Committee proposed three areas of expansion for our Co-op: remodel 1221, open a second retail site, and build a production facility. In 2005, we opened the production facility and on November 15th, 2010, the second retail site was opened, leaving the last directive—remodel 1221. Initially after receiving the three directives, the management team and I had to decide in what order to accomplish them. In hindsight, the order chosen resulted in several new systems and processes designed to support our growth in an efficient manner. When we opened the Production Kitchen, this helped determine systems that would later support a multi-store operation; i.e. transfers, deliveries, production.
Since July 1st, 2010, our tireless Human Resources department has facilitated the hiring of over 85 new staff members, bringing the Co-op’s total to 257 employees (174 full-time). More than you will ever know, our current staff members were stellar in their commitment and patience to train these new hires, which has serendipitously fostered a supportive and synergistic relationship between the two stores.
Also worth noting, from the time we announced the location for Willy West, the Co-op has seen a 15% increase in Owners, which has now reached 20,500! A good portion of this rapid increase can be directly attributed to many former Owners who, now living on the West side, reinstated their equity after learning that they’d be closer to the second Willy Street Co-op location.
From site selection to plan development to execution, there are scores of people to thank for their part in seeing Willy West open its doors, perhaps too many to list here, so I’ll just say thank you from the bottom of my heart—this accomplishment was definitely a group effort.
Personally, once the dust has settled at Willy West, I am looking forward to hunkering down and experiencing the nuances of running two retail sites and getting to know the new staff—oh, and selling groceries!
We’ve now finished installing the driveway onto Jenifer Street at Willy East and would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge how hard change can be and the importance of early and clear communication when changes are needed. We also acknowledge the assertion made during the driveway conversation that the Co-op has possibly grown too large for our space at 1221 Williamson Street. By first allowing the Willy West operation to get off its feet, we plan to closely observe the impact on traffic at Willy East in the coming months. Depending on the results, expansion at 1221 Williamson Street or the remodeling of it may no longer be a next best step for us and we will need to continue discussing it.
Though the driveway onto Jenifer Street has been installed, you may have also seen that it is blocked to car traffic (but open to bikes) until we have concluded our work with the driveway ad hoc committee. Acting on a suggestion from one of the committee members, we chose to put this work on hold until the new year when will continue to discuss criteria for evaluating the safety for bikes, pedestrians and motorists in and around the Co-op. We’ll also look to the Board of Directors and their Strategic Planning committee for guidance in determining our next chapter.