by Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Thanks to your voting last July to support expanding Willy West into the vacant space next door, and then your backing the project with $674,500 in Owner bond purchases, we are just about ready to begin the construction phase of our West expansion project! The construction schedule and timing are still a work in progress, though we do have enough information currently to give you a general idea of what you might expect this spring and summer at Willy West to look like.
WORK ON EXTERIOR AND NEW SPACE — COMMUNITY ROOM, BATHROOMS, BACKSTOCK
We plan to start construction on the west side of the store (in the currently vacant space), and on the exterior. The exterior facade, near the outdoor seating area, will be extended to include the new part of the store. The new space will also need to be prepared for us to move in: the floor will need to be lowered 8” to our current store level, the new backstock and Community Room will be built, and we plan to install the new bathrooms before we remove the existing bathrooms. Some things that you may notice at this time include reduced access to the outdoor patio; relocation of cheese, beer, wine, and Deli grab-and-go items; and you may experience some noise from behind the wall of the new space. If all goes as planned, we can begin demolition in the new space as early as April 16.
JUICE BAR, CHEESE DEPARTMENT, DELI, COMMONS AND BATHROOMS
Once we have the new Community Room and new bathrooms completed, we can begin removing the existing bathrooms, and replacing the existing Community Room with the newly extended commons and the new staff office. We will also continue work in the new space so that we can relocate our Juice Bar and Cheese department, as well as replace a large cooler and freezer unit in our Deli and install our new customer-facing beer cooler. The new Community Room will have two entrances: one near the new commons, and one near the Cheese department. This means that customers will be able to access the new bathrooms through the new Community Room while we are finishing work where the current bathrooms and Community Room are located. At this time, you may notice some traffic/travel patterns in the store changing, and the removal of our current express checkout lanes. It is also possible that services in the Deli, Juice Bar and Cheese may be briefly interrupted or suspended while we finish refrigeration work, take down the wall to the new space, and move into the new Juice Bar location. Whenever we become aware of any interruptions of service, we will do our very best to keep our in-store signs, website, and social media updated for your knowledge and planning.
BEER & WINE, GROCERY AISLES, AND THE WELLNESS DEPARTMENT
After the new Juice Bar and Cheese departments are in operation, customers should be able to enjoy access to our new beer cooler and wine displays. We also expect to have our new bathrooms and new Commons open and completely accessible by this time. Once customers can access the bathrooms from the front of the store, the new Community Room will be closed to customers so that we can use the space for storing construction equipment and supplies for the remainder of the project. During this part of the project, we’ll begin work rearranging and widening the grocery aisles, relocating the Wellness department and building a new Wellness reference desk. As we move the aisles, certain portions of the retail floor will also be refinished. This means that traffic patterns in the store may change a bit more frequently during this portion of the project. We plan to make use of the newer space to ensure that while we are widening the aisles and sprucing up the floor, displaced products will have room to remain organized and as easy to find as possible. We are still in the process of assessing the work that will need to be done on the floors. When we complete that assessment, we will know whether we will keep the store open throughout this portion of the project or whether it would be more efficient, affordable and comfortable for customers and employees if we close the store for one to a few days to move the shelves and refinish floors. We will keep you posted via our website and social media if we become aware of any dates or unusual times the store would be closed!
CHECKOUT LANES, CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK, AND COMMONS
Finally, when the grocery aisles are moved and the Wellness department is completed and in its new home, we will have space to begin installing our new checkout lanes, to rebuild our Customer Service desk, and to install a new self-service counter/waste receptacle and maintenance closet in our existing Commons. Our hope is to keep at least four registers functioning throughout the transition to the new lanes and to move them as infrequently as possible. We will work on checkout lanes from west to east while the new Customer Service desk is built. The rest of the store should be mostly set up at this time, and when work on this area is complete, you will be able to enjoy a bigger, more comfortable Willy West with wider grocery aisles, two more full checkout lanes, more space to enjoy a meal or have a beverage, and a new Community Room with a commercially certified teaching kitchen.
TIMELINE AND PLANS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
The floor plan and design for Willy West’s expansion is set. However, if you’ve ever done your own construction project at home or at work, you know that even the best laid plans and schedules can change with new information and discoveries. While we anticipate construction starting in mid-April and would like our project to be completed by mid-October, it’s entirely possible that we will start later, some things may take longer or shorter than anticipated, and some scheduling and planning may shift as we get into the thick of the work. We have communicated to our construction partners our desire to wrap up the project before we get busier in fall, and our goal is to keep you as informed as possible so that you can plan your visits accordingly. For the latest updates on West expansion, visit our website at www.willystreet.coop/willy-west-expansion, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. You may also call us at 608-284-7800 during store hours to find out what’s happening, and we’ll have up-to-date in-store signs to keep you informed as well.
Thanks again to all of our Owners who provided us with feedback about things we could improve at Willy West, to those of you who voted, to those of you who purchased Owner Bonds, and to all of you that continue to choose to shop with us! Our Owners and your business make these improvements to your shopping experience possible, and we are looking forward to making Willy West a bigger and even better place for you to shop.