Willy Street Co-op is committed to insuring a future that provides fair and equitable prices to all Owners and preserves access for those who live on low incomes.
- 2005: rapidly rising trend in Courtesy discounts is brought to attention of the Board of Directors by the Finance department.
- 2006: Board of Directors hands the subject to the Owner Relations Committee to explore and recommend further action.
- 2006: Owner Relations Committee recommends gathering owners and members to participate on the Courtesy Discount Task Force
- 2007: 12-18 people volunteer to explore the options for addressing the rising costs associated with the Courtesy discounts
To review the current system of courtesy discounts and recommend options relating to the long-term fiscal viability of this program of the Cooperative.
- April 2007: Courtesy Discount Task Force submits their recommendation to the Board of Directors: “In order for the Cooperative to maintain equitability for all of its owners, base all discounts solely on each applicant’s financial need.”
- February 2008 Task Force Recommendation article in Reader
- February 18 and 27, 2008 Courtesy Discount Listening Sessions held
- Spring/Summer 2008: Board directs management to develop a plan for Access.
- Summer/Fall 2008: Board of Directors discusses and decides on final parameters of Access discounts
- January 15, 2009: Letter mailed to all Courtesy Owners/ members explaining changes
- February 2009: Article in Reader explaining changes
- March 1, 2009: Courtesy Discount ends and Access Discount is implemented
Willy Street Co-op recognizes several national, state, and county assistance programs including:
- QUEST/Food Stamp Program
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
- Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC)
- School Breakfast or Lunch Program (for free and reduced-price meals only)
- Child and Adult Care Food Program (for free and reduced-price meals only)
- Section 8 Housing Assistance/Community Development Authority (HUD Housing)
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- More may be added. Check with Customer Service.
Provide current enrollment materials to the Customer Service representative to get signed up.
Those commitments mean we need to take another look at discounts Willy Street Co-op has offered in the past. For over 25 years, we have extended no-cost, special memberships and a 10% courtesy discount for anyone over 60 years of age, those with disabilities and those living on a low-income. That policy is no longer sustainable.
In 2005 the Board of Directors, Management and a Task Force of Co-op Owners began looking at the impact of those discounts when the costs increased sharply. Concerns centered on the fact that courtesy discounts were and are outpacing the growth of sales for the Co-op (20% avg. per year in discounts vs. sales growth of 4-12% per year).
Courtesy discounts, subsidized by owner purchases, accounted for $62,833 in 2003 and in 2009 the total is expected to reach $188,370.
The skyrocketing costs of the discount program as well as our cooperative principle of giving equal consideration to the needs of all Owners told us it is clearly time to make some changes.
As a result the Board of Directors has decided to eliminate free memberships and base any additional discounts on financial need alone, beginning March 1st, 2009.
This decision was not made lightly. It was based on many discussions between Co-op Board members, management and members. Owners and members were invited to participate in Informational meetings and a Courtesy Discount Task Force and focus groups were held over the last three years. The Co-op’s Board and staff also collected information about special memberships at other co-ops throughout the U.S., some of which had recently or were also in the process of making similar changes to their memberships.
On January 15th, 2009, a letter was sent to all Owners and Members who hold special memberships to inform them of the changes. This included further instructions on applying for the Access discount and the option of a reduced ($4/yr.) installment plan for an individual fair share of $56.00. Household accounts are available for two people living in the same house for $7/yr. until the entire $91.00 in equity is paid. (See the sidebar for the decision timeline and eligibility requirements).
For a complete history of the Co-op’s work on this issue, including the recommendation from the Task Force of Owners, see the collected archive on our website at www.willystreet.coop/access_discount_faq or see the F.A.Q. and information binder in the Owner Resources area in the store through the end of March, 2009.
If you have further questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to mail letters to the Co-op or email at: www.willystreet.coop/contact_us or contact the Co-op and someone will assist you at 251-0884. All comments will be responded to within three days of receiving them.