Welcome to the last month of summer! As we look ahead to the start of school and the promise of crisp September breezes, I hope you all get to check those last summer bucket list items off your list.
East Reset Completed!
And what a summer it has been! Midway through July we did our final major reset (for the foreseeable future at least) at Willy East. The feedback we’ve gotten so far is that this is a marked improvement from the previous store arrangement. I know I love walking down the “Breads and Spreads” aisle, as it’s affectionately known behind the scenes. Please share any feedback you have by leaving a customer comment form!
Additional East Work
We will have a few more Willy East tweaks to make. Now that we are about one year out from completing the renovation, it’s time to take care of improvements still covered by our warranty. The biggest piece of work will take place in the 3rd week of August, when we fix the concrete at the entryway. During that week, traffic in and out of the store will have to go through the Community Room door prior to 3:00pm. Our apologies for the inconvenience!
Staff Picnic—Stores Closing Early!
Both stores will be closing early on Monday, August 17th for our Staff Party—be sure to get your shopping in before 6:00pm!
Board Election Results
We have new Board members to welcome to our Co-op’s Governance team! They are:
Holly Fearing (incumbent)
Thank you also to Rick Bernstein for six years of service on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors, and to dawn matlak for three years of service on the Board.
This was the first year with the new voting timeline, and we saw participation go up a bit, from 2,025 total votes last year to 2,532 this year. The additional item on the ballot was an update to our bylaw language that removed a specific office address from the bylaws. This measure passed, with 2,362 in favor and 88 votes opposed.
Annual Meeting & Party (AMP) Zero-Waste Report
Some of you may be interested to know the results of this year’s AMP Zero Waste efforts. In the end, we diverted 833 lbs. out of 923 lbs. total, or 94%! Thank you to Earth Stew Compost Services for being our composting partner, and to the Madison East High School football team for being on our support team.
Additional Local Veggies… in winter!
The Co-op’s Purchasing team has been working to build a relationship with Innovation Kitchens (innovationkitchen.org), a commercial kitchen in Mineral Point whose goal is to work with co-ops, schools and hospitals to “lightly process” local products and make them suitable for winter use (e.g., canning, freezing, pickling, etc.). We’ve purchased a few things from them in the past year (most notably the pumpkin for our pies last Thanksgiving).
We decided that it’s time to take things to the next level. In late June, Megan Minnick, our Director of Purchasing, sent out a call to all of our organic farmers. She gave them a small list of items (tomatoes for canning, and a few of our top-selling frozen veggies) and told them that if they have a bounty of any of these items this year that they would be willing to sell as one lot at a discounted wholesale price, that we would work with Innovation to get the item processed and packaged for our retail. The farmers seemed excited, and mid-July Megan got an email from Crossroads Community Farm, who has a glut of broccoli—more than they can sell through their current channels. Crossroads ended up delivering two pallets (300-500 lb.) of broccoli to Innovation Kitchens to be processed into florets and frozen, ultimately in 16 oz. bags with a UPC. If all goes as planned, this broccoli will be available in our frozen aisles during the winter months when there is no local broccoli available. We hope to grow offerings such as these in the future!
New Referral Program
Willy Street Co-op has a new referral program! When you refer someone who signs up to become a Co-op Owner, you get a $25 gift card as a thank you for growing our cooperative community. Please note though that the new Owner needs to provide us with your name and phone number or email address when they fill out the Fair Share contract.
New Public Art Spaces at Willy East
We received approval from the City through the MNA Arts & Culture Mural Project Initiativeto beautify three exterior walls at Willy East: the fire station side of the property (where our current mural resides), Jenifer Street side of the property and the wall by our loading dock.
A community mosaic, led by artist Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores, will soon grace the Jenifer Street side of Willy East! The mosaic will be created over the course of August—keep an eye in store and online for opportunities to participate in the creation of this new piece of neighborhood art!
Some Fun FY15 Stats (as reported at the AMP!)
In case you missed the fun at the AMP, here are a few high level numbers that Owners may be interested to know:
- Your Co-op sold $41.92 million in sales—and more than half of that stayed here in our local economy.
- We also have a loss of roughly $500k for the year. We originally thought the loss would be closer to $600k, but end of year cost savings and sales boosts helped tip the scale more in our favor!
- We employed 343 staff, and paid $11.5 million in wages and benefits.
- $8.74 million dollars of local product was purchased from local vendors.
- We spent over $2 million locally for operating expenses.
- Owners donated $228,764 in CHIP contributions and $45,805 in Nepal Earthquake relief contributions.
- We made grants totaling $25,000 to nine local not-for-profits through our Community Reinvestment Program, for specific projects.