Willy North Product Mix Praise
Q: I wanted to write and thank you for the manner in which you have chosen your product mix at Willy North. Your willingness to listen to the requests and recommendations of area residents for familiar and affordable food choices demonstrates an open minded attitude, and shows your true desire to aid those who need you the most. I am fortunate enough, at this point in my life, to beable to enjoy (and afford) local and organic food products, and believe that they do taste better and provide better nutrition. However, I have also been on the other side as well, where the available funds needed to be stretched to fill the stomachs present, and what could be viewed as ’the best’ choices were not the economically viable ones. I applaud your selection from another aspect as well, in that I have recently needed to do some grocery shopping for my mother who’s dementia will not allow any substitution of favored brands. The selection at Willy North (“Brownberry Ovens Whole Wheat Bread in the red labeled wrapper,” Miracle Whip, and Pam!) allow me to do more shopping in one location, and save a trip to a second store. Having said this, I have read several letters in the Reader from members taking you to task for not maintaining what they perceive to be a ‘purity of vision and mission’ at Willy North. I would suggest to them that if the sight of a variety of products that they deem unworthy of shelf space in ‘their’ co-op offends their moral code, don’t go to Willy North. Patronize Willy West, or the Mother Ship on Willy Street, if the Purity Of Essence of your shopping experience outweighs all other factors. (Oh, and good luck finding parking places there. Just sayin’.)
A: Thanks for sharing your positive feedback about the product mix and customer service we have provided in opening and growing Willy North. Thank you, also, for sharing your story about the food choices you have had to make over the course of your life, including the heartfelt choices you make for your mother. I’m glad to hear we’re meeting your family’s needs and making shopping more efficient for you.
Our business started very small, serving the people who came together in one neighborhood over 40 years ago. Throughout the years it has been transparent discussions, quality products and services, and a willingness to adapt and change that have made more and more people want to shop and belong. Our growth has been carefully managed in part because of our Owners holding us to task, and while that sometimes leads to uncomfortable conversations, airing differences and sometimes exposing short-sightedness of Owners or staff or all of us, I am glad that we can have these kinds of conversations so that we can learn from each other and really find out what we can do to provide the offerings and services most appreciated Co-op-wide.
Your Co-op is committed to being an inclusive grocery store where everyone is welcome at any location, in accordance with the Cooperative Principles, our mission, and our ends. The staff understands that individual health is subjective according to nutritional, financial, personal and cultural needs and values. We are committed to continuing to tailor all our locations to need and by collective request because ultimately we are here to provide service.
We appreciate your contribution to the conversation. Please let me know if there is anything else I may do for you! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Double Dollar Program
Q: Zillion of thanks for the double dollar program and for using the bag incentive for this too. Thank you also for your decision to make double dollars available for fruit and veggies. I have volunteered for years at the farmers market and been involved with the double dollar program there. It is great BUT I find it terrible that market dollars can be used for baked goods, which take a substantial amount of market dollars for no healthy nutrition. I know that many people think a choice should not be imposed but I disagree strongly and hope that the Coop will keep the present policy of fruit and veggies. In addition to keeping people healthy, it supports our superb local farmers.
A: Thanks for writing! I’m so glad to hear that you appreciate both our Double Dollars program and our re-purposing of the reusable bag incentive to fund the program at both the Co-op and the farmers’ markets. We made the decision to limit the coupons to fruits and vegetables based on the guidelines from the USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant that funded the program. Moving forward, our plan is to first attempt to raise enough funds to keep the program going as we had done in the pilot, meaning that at a minimum, we would issue coupons on Tuesdays and they would be eligible for Produce Department purchases any day of the week from late fall to early spring. If we are able to raise more funds, we can then consider ways to expand the program; and in that case, we may look at making the coupons eligible for redemption of other specific items in the store, using the guidance and nutritional expertise of our public and private partners in the program to guide those decisions. We’ll keep your feedback in mind, as well as the feedback we hear from other Owners, should we become positioned to consider an expansion of that sort. We appreciate your support! Please let me know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
HEAT ON MY HEAD
Q: Today (Tue April 4) at about 3:45 I walked into the Willy East store, and was surprised to feel heat on my head. The gas heater in the foyer was on. The outside temperature was about 50ºF, probably warmer. I asked at the front desk if the heater could be turned off to conserve energy. The staff person there paged for maintenance. A few minutes later I spoke with a staff person who told me that the heater was solar powered. I said I did not believe that. We took a look at it, it’s clearly labeled a gas heater. I told her that if it was solar electric powered, I believe it would need more collectors than would fit on the entire roof. She then told me that the heater was on a timer and could not be adjusted. I asked “no thermostat?” —she didn’t think so. When I left the store about 4:15 the heater was on.
Since our Co-op prides itself on energy conservation, I hoped someone would be concerned about this apparently unnecessary waste of fossil fuel. Perhaps you can explain why it is necessary to heat the foyer?
A: I am sorry that the person you talked to at Willy East did not give you accurate information about the infrared heater in the foyer. That is, in fact, a gas fired unit that is controlled by a manually operated thermostat. It is neither solar powered nor is it on a timer.
In the spring and fall, it is very difficult to find a happy medium with the thermostat setting when the outside temps fluctuate between cool and warm from day to day or even between morning and afternoon on the same day. The heater in the foyer is necessary to provide a temperature barrier between the outside and the front end of the store. This is where staff work at the checkout stands and Customer Service near the entry doors, which open and close over 2000 times per day. Without the heater, front end staff (who are not at liberty to move around to stay warm) would be blasted with air temperatures that are less than comfortable for an indoor work environment. This temperature barrier also helps to maintain consistent and comfortable temps in the rest of the store.
Additionally, in the parts of the year where we see varying types of inclement weather, the heater helps to maintain a safer walking surface for customers walking through the foyer by evaporating snow and moisture that comes in on peoples’ shoes and shopping carts. –Jim Jirous, Maintenance Manager
Q: Please—an easy to read clock over the front door for bus riders. Please label the bulk containers/bottles with the price, not just the bar code. Please a chair/bench at the middle and rear of the store for resting. Lot of boomers + disabled here + only 1 electric cart. Thank You
A: Thank you for the suggestions! I’ve checked in with the team at North, and they agree, they will install a clock over the front door and determine where they might be able to locate a bench for resting in the store. I also understand that Bennett Kading in North Grocery already reached out to you about the bulk containers and bottles, that the bottles will have price tags moving forward. Please let us know if there is anything else we may do for you! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I live in Minneapolis and would like to buy a gift certificate for my mother who is a member. How do I do that?
A: What a thoughtful idea! We definitely sell gift cards, and you can find out how to purchase one at www.willystreet.coop/co-op-gift-cards-available. Thanks for thinking of us! Please let me know if you have any further questions.
-Robert Halstead, Owner Resources Coordinator
Q: Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for stocking Punk Rawk Labs cheese! I put in a request for it afew months ago, not really thinking anything would come of it, and then I saw it on the shelves today and I was so excited! I’ve been out of town for the last few months and just got back last week, so I don’t know how long you’ve been stocking it for, but I really appreciate it. Thanks for listening!
A: Thank you for taking the time to write to us and share your appreciation. I have shared your comment with our staff to be able to enjoy as well. Thanks for supporting your Co-op, and we’ll see you around!
-Robert Halstead, Owner Resources Coordinator
ALL STORES WILL BE OPEN UNTIL 7:30PM ON MEMORIAL DAY (MONDAY, MAY 29TH).