Q: Hello, I was at Willy North today browsing the body products section for the first time in a while, and I love that you carry reusable menstrual products likeChads design build the Diva Cup and reusable cloth pads, as well as lines of organic disposable period products. It’s great to see those in a brick and mortar store and not just online (diva cups have been more mainstream lately but this was the first time I’ve seen cloth pads in a store). Thank you for promoting those products, and placing them at eye level so they’re a little more attention-grabbing and may make people more likely to make the switch if it’s something they’re comfortable with. I do have a suggestion for your menstrual product section. The label for the section is “feminine hygiene,” which is the standard in most stores, however, I would like to offer the alternative of changing this sign to something more gender neutral, such as “period care” or “menstrual products.” Using a euphemism does not help remove the stigma surrounding menstruation, and may also cause trans men or non-binary shoppers to feel uncomfortable. It is a small thing, but one of many that could detract from a person’s perception of self-worth. If you have time, I would suggest reading this article: https://lunapads.com/blog/2017/01/3-reasons-to-qui... (link is external) I know what I’m suggesting might sound like a non-issue, but making small changes like these are a way we can contribute to the period-positive movement and help include all people who menstruate, not just those who identify as female. Anyway, thank you for reading and for offering alternative products that are safer for our bodies and the environment!
A: Hello!! Thank you for writing! I agree, I think using the phrase “Feminine Hygiene” is not inclusive nor pride-inducing. It’s been on my mind for a while to change it, so thank you for bringing this up! I’m going to begin conversations internally, and hopefully we’ll see a change in the coming months.
Thank you! –Angela Pohlman, Wellness Category Manager
Q: I was wondering if on Tuesdays when you have the Double dollars, if you could post on social media Facebook Instagram etc. About some of the deals you have that day. It takes me just under an hour to get to the store and it would be great to do so meal planning beforehand. Thanks for the consideration.
A: I apologize that I didn’t respond to your email more promptly! We have been trying to figure out a way to do this and haven’t yet figured out a good process to get this done consistently while balancing with the other things to promote. Are you signed up to receive the Owner Rewards flyer? If you aren’t already, that gets sent out each Monday—you can sign up at www.willystreet.coop/rewards/subscribe and unsubscribe at any time. (I have attached this week’s flyer as an example.) We are also working on more opt-in notifications and will keep this in mind as something to tie in. We are working on shifting some social media posts around and may have more room to post sale reminders in conjunction with Double Dollars reminders.
Have a nice week! -Brendon Smith, Communications Director
Q: Willy St. needs to study feasibility of opening warehouse distribution and sharing proportionate costs with other interested co-ops esp in terms of operations”
A: Thanks for taking the time to write! We do work with other co-ops to leverage our buying power mostly through our membership with NCG (National Cooperative Grocers). Since many co-ops across the US are members of NCG, NCG is able to negotiate for competitive pricing from large distributors. One example of this is our grocery bags. All co-ops that are a part of NCG get their bags from the same vendor and NCG works with that vendor to get us a discount. Another example is our Co-op Deals program. NCG leverages the buying power of co-ops from across the country to negotiate these deals. NCG’s role is to provide centralized resources and support to co-ops so that we can be stronger together.
Partnering with NCG is a good solution because they can negotiate for pricing that we couldn’t get on our own while allowing us to stay focused on what we do best; selling groceries.
We are having the conversation internally about what our role should be in the local food supply chain and how that fits in with our strategic plan. As always, we will continue to stay in the loop with changes to our local food supply and consider opportunities that are aligned with our long term goals.
I hope this helps to provide some insight. Have a great day!
-Matt McHugh, Logistics Director
FOOD SHARE POLICIES
Q: Hello! I work at a non-profit in Madison supporting adults with disabilities. I am seeking info about your program that offers extra Food Share allowances—I remember reading about double Food Share dollars, but I don’t know all the details. Would you please clarify your Food Share policies so that I can inform the individuals I support? Also—do people need to be a member to use their Food Share cards at Willy Street Co-op or to get the extra allowance? Are the Food Share policies the same at all 3 stores? Thank you for all the wonderful healthy, affordable, and delicious foods you offer our community!
A: Thanks so much for reaching out! We have a few different programs that your clients may appreciate.
If you have clients interested in FoodShare, and are not sure that they qualify, we host Second Harvest once per month at each of our locations to offer information about FoodShare and registration assistance. They take both pre-made and walk-in appointments, and they also support Spanish speaking customers. For more information, please visit our website at www.willystreet.coop/events.
If your clients are already using FoodShare, they may be interested in our Double Dollars Program. On Tuesdays through March 13, customers using FoodShare when they shop are eligible to receive $5 per every $5 they spend on FoodShare in vouchers towards produce purchases, up to $20. The vouchers are good for anything in our Produce department, and expire May 31. They can be redeemed anytime the customer shops, and customers can use as many vouchers as they have or wish in one or multiple shopping trips. The program is administered by Community Action Coalition and in partnership with the City, County and participating local farmers markets. From June to November, Double Dollars are available at the farmers’ markets for FoodShare benefits participants, and from October-May, Double Dollars are at the Co-op. The program is primarily funded when people reuse shopping bags when they shop the Co-op, and we also offer the opportunity for customers to make cash donations to support the program as well. More information is available at www.willystreet.coop/double-dollars. Anyone using FoodShare can participate in Double Dollars, they need not be a Co-op Owner.
We also have an Access Discount Program, which offers 10% off all groceries and a reduced payment for Co-op Ownership to all Owners who demonstrate low income or that they are experiencing food insecurity. Interested customers can both sign up for Ownership for as little as $4 per year, and apply for the Access Discount at the Customer Service desk at any location. You can view details about the program and current qualifiers at www.willystreet.coop/ownership. Many Owners sign up for Access using their FoodShare/QUEST card as the qualifier.
We accept FoodShare from any customer and offer the Access Discount and Double Dollars at all of our locations. Please let me know if there is anything else we may do for you or if you would like us to send you some materials about the programs to share! Have a nice weekend.
-Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Q: As someone who eats meat infrequently, I haven’t had much occasion to consult with the meat dept. I did have product questions twice recently at the North store, and everyone I’ve spoken with has been helpful and accommodating. In one case, the question needed to go to the seafood buyer who contacted me later with the needed info. Today, I spoke with the man who does the cool smoking, had my questions answered with an offer to custom smoke some chicken rear quarters without salt. Thanks to these folks for being willing to follow up with such fine service. As a general comment from an old person who has always been prone to retain fluid with excess salt (age definitely increases that propensity), I wonder if there is any possibility of offering lower salt options in the hot and salad bars. I really enjoy the dishes offered but need to exercise care in consumption. Just wondering how offering lower salt options would be received. Alternately, a serving-size with basic nutritional data would be highly useful. Thanks for any consideration you may give this as it has been on my mind for a couple of years anyhow. Kudos to staff at East and North for consistently good service—rarely do I stop at Middleton. Thanks all. PS. Produce is where I generally have most questions for staff, and they are consistently able to answer.
A: Thanks for the thoughtful feedback and your suggestion, I appreciate your patience as I did some research for you. We do not currently have plans to offer a specifically low-sodium line of prepared foods, but our Prepared Foods Category Manager, Patrick Schroeder, has noted your request for future reference when we consider the development of new products. Nutritional information is something we do not currently have the resources to provide directly to the consumer. What we can do is provide recipes, which can be input into online nutritional calculators like the one at www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator (link is external). It’s not an elegant solution, but it is the one we have right now. If there is something specific you would like the recipe for, please let us know and we can see what we can do for you.
I’ve shared your positive feedback about the service you have received with our store directors at East and North. We really appreciate hearing that you have had consistent and quality customer service. Have a great weekend!
-Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
MANGOES & BANANAS
Q: Hi there! I have a twofer for you today. :) 1. Do you have your in-house packaged dried mangoes back in stock? The last time I was there, they were sold out. My 3yo just informed me he’s “dying” without them, so apparently I need to make an “emergency” run tomorrow if they’re back in. :-) 2. Do you have any idea when you’ll get the Equal Exchange un-gassed bananas back in stock? My son is allergic to the ethylene gas that bananas are treated with, and reacts to the Ecos bananas. (I’m not sure if they’re gassed or not.) He does great with the Equal Exchange un-gassed bananas, though. Any idea when they might be back? They’re a huge and rare treat for him! Thank you so very much.
A: Thanks for writing. Hopefully you already got some, but the dried mango is definitely in stock at Willy East!
Regarding the bananas, I’m not sure why your son would have a reaction to the Ecos label bananas but not the Equal Exchange. Both (and indeed all bananas you’ll find in supermarkets in the US) are treated with ethylene gas for ripening. Because they are shipped via barge from the tropics, they have to be picked extremely green. The ethylene is applied right before they are shipped to our stores so that they ripen correctly. If they didn’t get
that treatment, they would not ripen to yellow at all, but would turn black.
The only difference between the two banana labels is that they are treated with ethylene at two different distributors warehouses. The Ecos come from Albert’s Organics in Prescott WI, and the Equal Exchange come from J&J Distributing in the Twin Cities. To my knowledge both Albert’s and J&J use identical processes to ripen the bananas.
Albert’s is our primary banana supplier, and we really only use J&J to fill in when Albert’s runs low, so it’s tough to tell you exactly when we will have the Equal Exchange in stock. I hope this is helpful information.
Best, Megan Minnick, Purchasing Director
Q: Just a suggestion… sell some of Greenbush donuts individually.
A: We would love to but Greenbush does not sell them individually. If they decide to and we have the space to merchandise them, we might. Thank you for the inquiry.
Amanda Ikens, Owner Resources Coordinator
Q: Udi’s bread should be frozen to keep longer—other vendors keep frozen—customers forced to drive to other store for frozen bread-put one loaf back (refused to buy).
A: Thanks for letting us know that you would prefer to buy Udi’s bread frozen. We offer the Udi’s bread refrigerated and not frozen as a service to our customers. We want gluten-free bread to be available ready-to-use for those who would like it. However, this product does come in frozen and we would be happy to sell it to you that way if we have some on hand in the back. Feel free to ask next time you are in and looking for a frozen loaf!
-Liz Patterson, Assistant Grocery Manager—East
Q: Quick question: I am in need of raw in-the-shell peanuts. I know that many people have peanut allergies but I have looked all over for these as I want to make traditional southern boiled peanuts. Your staff was so kind, last time I inquired, to call some of your competitors to see if they have them since it didn’t seem as though you carried them. So far, it seems no one in Madison has them, of which I am aware.
Do you know of a reason that those of us with a need for them might not be able to get them here or why you might not carry them? I assume the demand might be rather small, but I would love to be able to get my hands on some from a local source (even though they are not grown in WI.) Again, these would need to be raw and in-the-shell.
Is it possible that you might be able to get them for custom and/or individual purchase? I would be looking for a pound or two at a time (only a couple of times a year) to make some fantastic, authentic, southern cajun boiled peanuts to help me keep my southern traditions alive. :-) Just let me know.
A: We have them lightly roasted in the shell, but you are correct, these are hard to find raw. I assume most people like them roasted and salted, and have not seen them raw in these parts, most likely because peanuts are not an agricultural product in the Midwest. We buy CB’s Nuts, lightly roasted peanuts in a shell, through our distributor, but they have a nice online catalog. In fact, you can find the raw ones on their website for purchase. It is a peanut boiling kit, with a 1.5 lb bag of peanuts. I hope that will fit your needs for now.
I appreciate you sending us your comments and questions!!
Have a great day!! -Dean Kallas, Grocery Category Manager