NON-DAIRY TASTE TESTING
Q: Hi, Due to climate concerns related to the Dairy industry and potential inflammatory concerns around the consumption of dairy, I’ve been thinking about transitioning away from cow’s milk. Although you offer a variety of dairy alternatives for milk in my tea, the options all come in quart size and at a considerable price. As a result, I continue to delay trying out alternatives for fear of wasting a product I don’t like (and my money). I would love it, if you could consider facilitating the shift off of dairy for myself and others who may have similar concerns by offering a week of taste-testing. You could also highlight other local products milk is often consumed with—teas, coffee, oatmeal or cereals so that people can see they like cashew milk in their tea, but oat milk in their oatmeal. Thanks for considering!
A: Thank you for your suggestion! Our Event Coordinator is a recent convert to coconut hemp milk and we were discussing doing something around this topic—your request seals the deal. We are aiming to do this at the end of summer (most likely as a way to lead into our participation in Madison Vegan Fest in early September). We hope to see you at our tasting!
-Brendon Smith, Communications Director
Q: Hi there! Wondering if you carry reusable straws, perhaps with long and skinny scrubbing brush? We live overseas but come back to Madison in the summer and would love to get some from Willy rather than order online. Thanks.
A: Thanks for thinking of us! We carry several varieties of reusable straws at all locations and some do come with scrubbing brushes. If there is a specific one you are looking for and wish to call ahead to check stock, you can contact East at 608-251-6776, North at 608-471-4422, or West at 608-284-7800. We look forward to seeing you this summer!
-Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Q: Hello! I recently became interested in finding out more about the calving practices of dairy farms. I would like to support farms that partake in alternative weaning practices that allow for more calf/mother bonding than traditional weaning practices, but am finding it difficult to figure out which farms fall under this category. I noticed that your website has the “get to know your egg, pork, beef farmer” feature under the “know your food” section. Do you have any similar information on the dairy farms you feature in your store? Thanks.
A: Thanks for reaching out! We have not yet put together “Know your Farmer” information for dairy farms, however we are definitely planning to expand the list in the future to include dairy and other farms as well. We’ll be sure to include information regarding calving practices when we do put this together. It’s a great suggestion that I may not have thought of.
Thanks again for the suggestion, I really appreciate it! Best, Megan Minnick, Purchasing Director
ORGANIC VALLEY SOY
Q: Hi. The store was out of Organic Valley soy creamer (french vanilla) yesterday, and 2 other stores that have also carried them in the past didn’t have any either. Is there an issue with the availability of this product?
A: Hope your week is going well! Organic Valley is no longer producing their soy products. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The only soy creamers available to us are from Wildwood or Silk. Would either of these be of interest to you?
Thank you for your comments and questions!! I know others are looking for the Organic Valley creamers too, but it is nice to have a reminder to get a substitute product.
Have a great day!
-Dean Kallas, Grocery Category Manager
CUSTOMER SERVICE CONCERN
Q: While I appreciate your criteria of hiring “very liberal” it should not stop your from giving training on customer service issues, when one asks a question I don’t want to hear “it what the vendor sends us” I recently purchased some chicken tenders which had a pack date and sell date, the sell date was the same day I bought them, when I opened the sealed package one day later they smelled rotten and could not cook them. When asking the meat man about the sell and use date I got nothing but it what they send us. This will be my last purchase of meats of any type from here. At the price charged I would like a little more info than “it’s what they send us”
A: First I would like to apologize for the poor customer service you received on your last trip to the meat counter. We do train our staff to give full and accurate explanations when confronted with any kind of issue.
I will go into more detail about the chicken for you. To some degree “it’s what they sent us” is an accurate statement. However that alone does not give you anything to go off of. When chicken, especially boneless pieces get toward the end of their sales life they tend to get gassy. This doesn’t always mean they have gone bad. But it is better to be safe than sorry especially when it comes to poultry. If you haven’t yet I would encourage you to come in for a refund of your purchase.
As far as you getting a short and unprofessional answer, I am very sorry this happened. It is unfortunate this experience turned you off to our meat department. I will be reminding my staff of how to handle these situations appropriately moving forward. I hope to see you back at the meat counter soon!
Ian Olrick-Gilberts, Meat Manager–West
Q: Do you accept quest?
A: Thanks for asking. We accept FoodShare/QUEST at all three locations. Plus, Co-op Owners who use FoodShare/QUEST are also eligible to participate in our Access Discount Program for a 10% discount on groceries and other benefits. If you are interested in enrolling in the Access Discount Program, please stop by Customer Service at any location to enroll. If you have any other questions or if there is anything else I may do for you, please let me know. Have a great day!
-Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
BULK LABEL ISSUES
Q: My husband and I are very unhappy with the new labels on the bulk bins. The “organically grown” symbol is so tiny, I literally had to get out my glasses to read it. On nearly all the bins, the symbol is gray, which makes it very hard to see. I should think that “organic” is something to advertise, not hide, and that the symbol should be color coded to match the store signage (green for organic and beige/orange for conventional). And just as important is that the country of origin info is gone. It matters to us where our food is grown. I understand that suppliers may source products from different places, which can make it a challenge to have current country of origin info, but I’m sure that’s solvable for such important info. We buy a lot of bulk items, and we will be asking staff to provide country of origin info for every item that does not list it.
A: Thank you providing feedback regarding our bulk labels. It turns out that when we re-printed our bulk signs, we mistakenly printed them on a non-color printer. We do intend for the logos to be in color and match our in-store branding. Due to the amount of text on the label and size of the sign we are limited as to how large we can make the organically grown and local symbols, but we are working with our developer to see if it’s possible to make those larger. Also, we have added the country of origin field back to our sign format! While we aren’t able to get country of origin information from our vendors 100% of the time, we will do our best to keep this information current. We understand that this information is valuable to our Owners.
We will be reprinting signs before the end of July, so you should see these improvements soon. Thanks again for the feedback and for your patience!
-Matt McHugh, Logistics Director
Q: I have been a member of the Willy Street Coop since the 1980’s but moved to Whitewater, WI. four years ago. Most of our home and grocery shopping is done in Janesville, Wi. but the Basic Coop does not honor my Willy St. Coop Membership. I was under the assumption that all Wisconsin Coops respect each other’s memberships. Could you please explain why they do not and what other Wisconsin Coops honor my membership. Thank you for the special coupon for Health products throughout the month of July. I only get to the Willy Street Coop once a month and I always miss the day Health Department products are discounted.
A: Thanks for reaching out and for your continued ownership! On behalf of the Board I volunteered to answer this question. It is true that some grocery co-ops, like ours, will offer reciprocal benefits to owners of other grocery co-ops. We choose to do this because our budget allows for us to extend owner sales to those who are owners of other co-ops, and we enjoy that we have customers from other communities who support the local economy wherever they visit. That said, as all grocery co-ops are autonomous, independent organizations. Some grocery co-ops, for their own individual fiscal reasons, do not extend that reciprocity to owners of other grocery co-ops. I’d recommend asking Basics if they would ever consider offering reciprocity to other grocery co-op owners. They may not know that there are shoppers like you that would be interested in that benefit, and may appreciate the feedback. In the meantime, I am not 100% sure what other co-ops offer reciprocity, but I am aware that Regent Street Market Co-op in Madison does for sure. The best way to find out whether another grocery co-op offers reciprocity would be to call ahead. Please let me know if you have further questions, and I hope you enjoy the Wellness Any Day coupon! We look forward to seeing you later this month.
-Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director