ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS
Q: Please Do Not accept one hundred dollar bills. at they can be fake and be used For drugs. Thank You
A: Thanks for sharing your concern for us! We appreciate it. We do not wish to turn anyone away due to they type of cash tender they offer, and so we continue to accept anything from pennies and up. Any bill of $50 or more that we receive is swiped with a counterfeit pen at the register to ensure that it scans as a legit form of payment. Please let us know if you have any other questions we may answer for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
DOUBLE DOLLARS DAYS
Q: Please consider either— changing the day for shopping $20 w/EBT = $5.00 coupon for produce to any day—OR at least include a weekend day—Many ppl. Working M-F Cannot make it here on a Tuesday.
A: Thanks for writing. I’m sorry that Tuesdays aren’t days that work well for you, and I’m sure that any day (or days) of the week we select for issuing Double Dollars coupons would not be serviceable for all of our customers. While I wish we currently had the means to expand the program or change the days, we do not have that option at this time. The $40,000 we received for the program through the USDA was designed to last through the end of March 2017, and we know from shopping statistics that in order to make the funds last, we can only offer the program once per week. When we designed the pilot and wrote the grant, the day of the week we settled on was Tuesdays and we are committed to carrying out the program per the design that was approved. We are currently working with our grant partners to devise plans for future funding and that includes determining how much funding we would need to continue the program and what it would take to expand the days of the week that people can receive the Double Dollars Coupons.
We’re so glad to hear that you are interested in the program. I am personally aware that it can be hard to stop at the store before, during, or after work. Please keep in mind that we are open from 7:30am-9:30pm every day including Tuesday. I hope that you will be able to find a way to take advantage of the Double Dollars opportunity either during its pilot phase or sometime in the future. In the meantime, know that we are keeping track of all the feedback we receive about the program, and this will help us make improvements moving forward, so thanks much! Please let us know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
OPEN ON THANKSGIVING
Q: So disappointed to see that you are open on Thanksgiving Day —your employees deserve a COMPLETE day to give thanks
A: Thank you for sharing your concern with us. I appreciate that you want to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.
Holidays are a topic we discuss frequently as staff. We stay open, as other grocers do in Madison on Thanksgiving, for a few reasons, one being that there are customers who enjoy being able to come here, whether it’s for that forgotten ingredient, or whether it’s to grab something and maybe even spend some time in our Commons because they don’t wish to cook. We also have a number of staff, who in previous discussions, have revealed that they would rather work that day, either for the monetary benefits, or because they may not have a lot of family around on Thanksgiving, or for other personal motivations. We pay time-and-a-half to work that day or give the option to take either unpaid or paid time off. All of our teams are very flexible to make sure that those who want off can be off, and those who want to be here can be here. So, for now, we will continue to be open on Thanksgiving day, unless we have the discussion again and decide as a team that our feelings have changed.
Please let us know if there is anything else we may do for you, and I hope that you have a happy Thanksgiving. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: Please take the “rebate” you send out and give to your employees. I would feel better supporting a place that pays a living wage!
A: Thanks for writing. Our patronage refund is not something we offer every year, we only offer it to Owners when we have earned more profit in a Fiscal Year than we have budgeted to receive, thanks to Owners choosing to shop the Co-op even more than we anticipated. We do offer profit share quarterly to our staff and since the overwhelming majority of our staff are also Owners, they receive both profit share and the patronage refund in exceptionally profitable years. In FY 2016, staff received profit share for the last three quarters. The Board has not allocated a patronage refund for Owners since FY2014.
I checked in with our Director of Human Resources, Kerrie Lentz about the living wage. She said, “we currently start entry level staff at or above $10.69 per hour. This was the living wage when we calculated last year, however we have since made the decision to use an updated model and calculate a more realistic wage that we call “livable” and that used more realistic numbers to reflect the costs of housing and phone use, which the older model hadn’t. The new livable wage for Madison is a 27 percent increase (from $10.69 to $13.62) and not a jump we can financially achieve immediately. Our HR and Finance teams are determining a plan to get us to the new livable wage over 2-3 years’ time. This plan will account for wage compression of current staff and result in yearly wage increases over the next several years as we budget for the ability to pay the livable wage.”
Please let us know if you have further questions. Thanks! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
SHOPPING CART ISSUES
Q: You guys should seriously consider putting security features on your shopping carts. I live down the street on Calypso and there are at least FIVE of your carts there. Just wanted to let you know.
** UPDATE. There are now six.
A: Thanks for the tip! We received a grant from the City to order extra carts so that we could experiment with allowing customers to take a cart home to get their groceries there. Customers interested in taking a cart should ask Customer Service before taking. This is a work in progress, and we are in consultation with the Northside Planning Council and area property managers about getting some corrals for borrowed carts at their buildings. In the meantime, we will send someone out to Calypso to grab the carts. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
HOUSEMADE ALMOND MILK
Q: I wanted your juice bar almond milk, but you were out of it. Maybe you could freeze some as a way to have more supply on hand all the time. I freeze it at home and it freezes very well.
A: I’m glad to hear the almond milk freezes well; we have thought about this but never tested it out. I like the idea behind this, but I’m not sure that all Owners would be okay with getting a previously frozen product. We like to keep most of our product from the Juice Bar fresh. I see your comment was submitted on Sunday. This weekend we ran into a supply issue with the company we get our bottles from. If there was no almond milk available that day, that was the reason. Sorry about the lack of almond milk! Cheers, Dustin Skelley, Deli Assistant Manager–East
Q: Thank you for the friendly helpful service you provide every day. I am a personal chef and in the store several times per week for clients and many days for myself. Every department from produce to meat, to gen merch to health & beauty, the front end folks, customer services… everyone is a delight. You have gone out of the way to be of assistance with big weekly meat orders, checking in back to see I there is more of an item, streamlining pre-orders, sorting through house charge balance questions, and the list goes on. You are my community in many ways and I feel so thankful for the gift that this co-op provides to me personally and to the community at large. I have met many a friend here both serendipitously in the aisles or by design. Thank you for the space, the place, the staff (and of course, the food and products). With much appreciation and gratitude.
A; Thank you for sharing your kind words! We pride ourselves on giving great customer service and it is so awesome to hear that you appreciate what we do. I really enjoy working for the Co-op and I think that comes across in our hard work and dedication to our products and growing our knowledge so we can better give customer service. I too have created some really amazing friendships by shopping and working here. Let us know if there is ever anything else we can do for you. I hope this message finds you well! –Amanda Ikens, Owner Resource Coordinator—East
LOCAL PRODUCE IN THE WINTER
Q: I have been frustrated lately with how little Wisconsin/Midwest produce is available to purchase at the east side location. I understand seasonality can be an issue but I don’t think the Co-op is prioritizing its buying around local economies. I would be eager to hear your perspective. Thanks.
A: Thanks for your comment expressing concern regarding the East Produce department’s commitment to supporting local economies. At this time of the year, we are limited to what those farms are able to supply us with. We are offering a variety of local winter squash, storage items, apples, root vegetables, sprouts and micro-greens. You may see greens available at area farmers’ markets, but due to the lack of heat and light, production is such that it is economically more feasible for the farm to sell it at a premium price at farmers’ markets than to the Co-op. If there are specific local produce items you feel we should be offering at this time of the year, or can provide some specifics as to why you feel the East Produce department is not prioritizing supporting local farms, please feel free to elaborate. Sincerely, Andy Johnston, Produce Manager—East