For many of our Owners, the Co-op is not just a place to purchase groceries, it’s a cornerstone where neighbors gather. Based on your input and what we already provide at Willy East and Willy West, we’ve begun investigating what kinds of services we may be able to provide beyond the grocery either right away or in Willy North’s future. Here’s what’s been discovered thus far (at the time of writing on May 23rd).
Commons and Little Free Library
There will be an indoor commons area at Willy North so that customers will be able to enjoy their purchases on site and gather together. We are also still in the planning stages to develop an outdoor commons area where, in addition to seating outside, customers will be able to either take, return or leave a book at a new Little Free Library. We are hoping that we can provide an outdoor commons space upon opening Willy North, and not have to wait for a remodel at a later time, though this remains unclear. We will let you know the results of our planning once finalized.
Willy North will have an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) serviced by UW Credit Union (Willy East and Willy West also currently have ATMs). The ATM will have no service charges.
Madison Metro Bus Sales and Schedule
Pierce’s Market was a Madison Metro Bus Sales Outlet, and we are also currently sales outlets at Willy East and Willy West. We have applied to be an outlet at Willy North and are awaiting approval. We are also working on developing a real time bus arrival schedule similar to the one we have at Willy East. The schedule will likely be displayed on a monitor in the commons area at Willy North.
Classes, Store Tours, and Events
Both Willy East and Willy West currently have a Community Room with a kitchen for teaching classes. Due to the time and cost considerations for Willy North, we are unable to dedicate resources for a Community Room by opening day. A Community Room for North will be considered at a later time, when we schedule a potential remodel.
We are currently making plans with the Madison Public Library’s Lakeview Branch and FEED Kitchens to ensure that we can offer store tours, lecture series, and hands-on workshops near and at the store. We will keep you posted about classes we offer in the area, and how to get to those classes.
Just like Willy East and Willy West, we will be able to host events in the parking lot, as well as host live demos and samplings throughout the store at Willy North.
You will be able to find Co-op events at or around Willy North the same way as one would find them for Willy East or Willy West: by reading the Community Calendar in the Reader, and by visiting www.willystreet.coop/events.
We understand that there are a number of people on the north side who rely on walking and public transportation to get to the store. We are currently considering some creative solutions so that if you need a cart to get groceries home, we can help you do that. Stay tuned for further developments.
Second Harvest FoodShare Registrations
Both of our current locations are certified to participate in the USDA FoodShare program (QUEST/EBT). FoodShare is a federal benefit, like Social Security, that provides extra money for groceries to low-income individuals and families. The benefits comes on an easy-to-use debit-like card that can be used at the Willy Street Co-op, many farmers markets, and most major grocery stores. Willy North is also applying for FoodShare licensing.
At Willy East and Willy West, we host opportunities for the public to learn about and register for FoodShare withOutreach Specialists from Second Harvest. We are working with Second Harvest and the Lakeview Library to host Willy North sessions there. In the meantime, if you would like to find out more, please call 1-877-366-3635 for a confidential screening with Second Harvest or to schedule an appointment at a location convenient for you. During your appointment, a specialist will assist you with an application, answer questions, and connect you with other great community resources. The income guidelines are higher than you might think: individuals earning $10+ per hour and working 40 hours per week may qualify. The next time Second Harvest will be at Willy West is June 13th from 2:00pm-6:00pm and the next time they will be at Willy East is June 14th from 8am-12pm. Walk-ins are welcome!
Willy North is applying to be a grocery vendor in Wisconsin’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC is a program that helps pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, and children under five years of age purchase food. We are in the early stages of the applicaiton process and at this point cannot make guarantees that WIC will be offered at Willy North.
We hope to have more information from the State regarding our ability to participate in WIC to report next month. You may visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/wic/index.htm to find out more about WIC.
American Flag Collection
Pierce’s Northside Market made space available to local Boy Scout Troop 127 to maintain a drop-off box for proper disposal of American Flags. We have approved this service to continue after Willy North opens.
Village Post Office
Area residents and Owners have brought to our attention that the neighborhood could use additional postal services. We contacted the United States Postal Service (USPS) in March to find out what it might take to become a retail partner and how USPS determines which locations are the best fit. Per our request, USPS has initiated an internal market analysis for the 53704 zip code and they will contact us when the analysis has been completed. At this point it is likely too late to include a Village Post Office in our initial plans. After we hear the results of the USPS market analysis, we will assess whether or not Willy North is the best fit for a future village post office. Regardless, this study should be able to provide the neighborhood with more information about how to increase postal services in the area.
B-Cycle is a bicycle membership program with 39 stations hosting 350 bikes across the Madison area to use for short distance commuting. Currently, the closest B-Cycle stations to Willy North are located at the Madison College Truax Campus and on North Third Street. Per customer request, we investigated installing a B-Cycle Station near Willy North. In order to build station density within the metro area, B-Cycle relies on business and community partners to cover the capital costs involved. Some of the stations are sponsored by a larger entity, and then the larger entity subleases the sponsorship benefits to other partners to distribute the cost. Installation prices are based on what size the station would be, what kind of site prep is needed, and what kind of power supply the station will have. While it is not feasible for the Co-op to pursue a B-Cycle Station near Willy North right away, we will take a closer look at the possibilities and reach out to other potential partners once we get settled. You can find out more about B-Cycle at madison.bcycle.com. A B-Cycle station is located at Williamson Street and South Few Street near Willy East, and the closest station to Willy West is at 750 University Row.
ZipCar is a car sharing membership service with cars throughout the downtown Madison area for participants to use. At the request of customers, we inquired about having a car parked at Willy North. At this time, ZipCar is not looking to add cars to the north side. We will inquire again once Willy North has been open for a while.
We have had several requests to have a Redbox installed at Willy North. Redbox is an automated rental kiosk for DVDs, Blu-ray and video games with locations nationwide. Upon inquiry, we’ve discovered that Redbox is focused on optimizing their existing network of more than 35,000 locations, and they are not accepting any applications for new locations anywhere. The closest Redbox to Willy North is on Shopko Dr. You may visit www.redbox.com to find out more about their services and we will continue to check back to see if they have begun accepting applications again.
Co-op Services Is Here For You
Whenever we receive requests from our Owners for additional amenities at the Co-op, we will always check them out to see if they are possible, and realistic to implement, and we will let you know the outcome. Please feel free to contact us with your ideas to make your Co-op work for you.