Community Bulletin Board
Q: I just tried to find room on the community bulletin board for an event announcement and noticed a number of large posters and old service announcements. I suggest that there be a size limit of 8.5x11” and that event and service announcements be on separate sides of the board, for ease in perusing (& posting).
A: Thank you for writing in about your concern. I agree that sometimes that board can get a little unruly. I personally check the community bulletin board twice a week and take items down that are either out of date or have not followed the posting guidelines. With the size of the board it would be very difficult to portion off areas for certain postings, and we do have two binders available for business cards and housing information. We did try and add another binder to help save space, but it proved to be more of a nuisance. We have in the past discussed limiting the size of the posters, but we do not want to inhibit people from being able to post about their community events. We will keep your suggestion in mind when we revisit the posting guidelines. -Amanda Ikens, Owner Resources Coordinator–Willy East
Paid in full
Q: When a member becomes paid in full after being a yearly paying member, they should be given something or sent something to indicate this.
A: Hello, and thank you for your comment! We do our best to try to let our Owners know when their equity is invested in full at the registers, but sometimes this isn’t always mentioned.
Currently there are a few ways for Owners to figure out when their next equity payment is due. At the bottom of every receipt from the Co-op there is a line that says when your next equity payment is due. If there is no date, this means your equity is paid in full. When Owners log into their online Owner account through willystreet.coop, their Owner profile will also state a valid until date. This valid until date is when your next equity payment is due. Like with our receipts, if there is no date, your equity is paid in full. And as always, Owners can ask our Customer Service Representatives if their equity is invested in full or not. -Ashley Kuehl, Owner Records Administrator
Sowing the seeds
Q: I think that Willy St. focuses too much on expansion and profitability. The goal of the co-op should not be money. Willy St. should be the hand that sows the seeds of sustainable local agriculture. Willy should be offering loans to prospective farmers not trying for a third site. There’s loads of farmland surrounding Madison and sadly most of it is cash crops of feed for livestock. It’s absurd when there is such a market for organic produce here. Build a community.
A: Thank you for sharing your feedback. Our mission is to be “an economically and environmentally sustainable, cooperatively owned grocery business that serves the needs of its Owners and employees. We are a cornerstone of a vibrant community that provides fairly priced goods and services while supporting local and organic suppliers.” We do not seek profit for profit’s sake. In order to remain economically viable and ensure that we can be a cooperative that will be enjoyed by our community for generations to come, we must trend year-to-year as a profitable business. That means we must consider growth when the community and the marketplace indicates that growth is necessary to meet Owner and community needs, to remain competitive enough in the grocery industry to survive, to allow enough space to support more local vendors and farmers, and to grow the outreach programming we can provide to our community, such as our pilot Local Vendor Loan Fund. The addition of a third store wouldcreate a place for more local, organic farmers to sell product, and that is the kind of support we are best suited as a 40+ year old grocer to provide in the continued building of our community.
Please see our Annual Report for more details regarding our finances at www.willystreet.coop/files/2015-annual-report.pdf. I hope this helps you understand a little more about why we sometimes focus on expansion and profitability. Let me know if there is anything else I may do for you! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Car charging stations
Q: Can you please work with MGE to move the charging stations to the back of the lot? Again today someone pulled into the spot without even checking for other parking spots. We’ve owned our Leaf now for 4 months and only once have I been able to use the charger and I shop here weekly. Thank you.
A: Thanks for contacting us. My apologies for not responding sooner. The location of Madison Gas & Electric’s transformer was the factor deciding where the spots were located. Moving the spaces or adding an additional transformer is currently cost prohibitive and the overall demand on our lot is just too great to dedicate any particular spaces for specific types of vehicles. Regardless of the location of the charging stations, we believe there will still be times when the lot is full. If you would like to learn about times when the lot might be less congested, you may view our peak shopping hours by visiting www.willystreet.coop/shopping-your-co-op. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: Hi, noticed some products now only say USA for the origin. I hope the STATE can be mentioned! Preferably I would like to avoid buying non-local vegetables and fruit. In addition, who can guarantee produce from CA OR and other West coast locations is free of dangerous radiation leads and toxins from fracking?!
A: Thank you for writing with your concern about produce items, which are labeled “Produce of USA” on our sign instead of specifying a state.
Whenever possible, we do specific state, and even town (for local items) on all of our produce signage. However, produce growers and packers are only required to identify country of origin on the boxes, so sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can’t tell where a specific product was grown. It also sometimes happens that we may have two different origins (California and Wisconsin for example) in the same display. When this happens, we label the product “USA” in order to make sure we’re not giving false information.
If you are looking to avoid certain growing regions, or stick to local produce only, I would recommend avoiding items that are labeled USA, and sticking with items that we can attach a state or town to on our signage. You can be certain that these signs are accurate and you’ll know exactly what you are buying.
Thanks for the feedback. We’ll continue to do our utmost to ensure that you know where the food that’s on our shelves comes from. Best regards, Megan Minnick, Director of Purchasing
Q: I love the rotisserie chicken but I decided to stop purchasing them after worrying about the plastic containers (which are bad by themselves, but heated plastic that increases the leaching into the chicken juice). Can you put them in other containers or have a few available refrigerated (not the leftovers from the prior day) never heated?
A: Thank you for taking the time to write to us about your concerns. We did a lot of research when deciding what kind of container to put our rotisserie chickens in. We ended up deciding on the plastic containers that you see now on our hot grab and go. These containers are BPA-free, and do not leach at all when heated. They were sturdy enough to hold our chickens, and yet the safest of any container we could find. We hope this puts your mind at ease when looking at one of our delicious rotisserie chickens as an easy dinner idea for you and your family. Thanks again, Renee Strobel, Deli Manager–West
Q: What would it take for the co-ops to go completely plastic bag free?
A: Good question. At this time, I’m not sure that we could go plastic bag-free. In certain sections of our store, such as the bulk aisle, retail regulations require us to offer free containers to fill, and while paper is appropriate packaging for some items, plastic makes more sense for others. Lots of products also come in plastic bags, or, in the case of bulk items, come with plastic liners, and we cannot necessarily control how product is shipped to us, packaged or merchandised. If a reasonable and durable alternative to plastic were to become available to us to serve the purposes of providing a free container, we would certainly look into it, though that doesn’t solve theissues around how we receive product. The best thing that people can do to avoid plastic in our stores would be to use glass containers, or paper when possible. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you. Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services