Joining Willy Street Co-op is truly an empowering experience—as an Owner, you are a one of a group of over 31,000 people who have come together to ensure our own access to fresh, healthy food. At a food co-op like ours, there are no outside shareholders expecting big returns and no executives living in far away cities—nearly all of the money you spend at your Co-op gets returned to our local community and to you, our Owners.
All of this giving back doesn’t just feel good. It turns out that studies have shown that it actually does some good in our local economies. As David Boyle of the New Economics Foundation puts it in a recent Guardian article: “‘Money works like blood —it needs to circulate around the local economy if it is going to keep it alive.’ Money spent in large supermarkets instead of local businesses ‘pours straight out again,’ according to Boyle. So, where local economies are suffering, it’s not due to low cash flow—it is a result of how and where that money is spent.”
This greater good is all well and good, but what about you, the individual Owner? How does your Ownership in our Co-op help your daily financial picture? It turns out there’s a variety of ways that you stand to gain financially from your Willy Street Co-op Ownership. Here’s a brief rundown:
As soon as you sign up for your Ownership, the 5% non-owner surcharge is immediately waived and you’ll pay only the price you see posted on our shelves. Last year, the average Willy Street Co-op Owner spent $1,228 at our Co-op and saved $61.39 by avoiding the 5% surcharge.
Owner Rewards Sales
There are several types of sales at our Co-op. Co-op Deals are bi-monthly sales that are negotiated at a national level by National Cooperative Grocers (or NCG). These sales are available to anyone—Owners and non-owners alike (non-owners must still pay the 5% surcharge however).
The other types of sales you’ll see in our stores are Owner Rewards. These are weekly sales that run Monday through Sunday, and as the name suggests, they are available only to Owners. Our Purchasing team typically negotiates Owner Rewards directly with our vendors, so this is where you’ll most often find deals on smaller local and regional brands, fresh produce, cheese, and prepared foods items. Last year, the average Owner saved $21.80 by choosing items that were on Owner Rewards.
The case discount program is a lesser-known avenue for savings, but one that offers an unlimited benefit for those who take advantage of it. In most instances, Owners must preorder, and there are a few exceptions (items that are on sale, items that are not carried at either of our locations, some refrigerated dairy items, bulk coffee, eggs, fresh bread, floral, beer and wine), but beyond that, Owners can take a 10% discount on a case quantity of anything we carry in our stores.
For more information on the case discount and how to order, check in with Customer Service at either store. They can give you the scoop, take your order, and of course we’ll give you a call when your order is ready to pickup.
In years that our Co-op is profitable, Willy Street Co-op Owners are entitled to a portion of those profits, given back as a patronage refund. Unfortunately, the last few years have not been profitable ones (due in large part to the remodel at Willy East), but in 2013, all Owners who spent more than $371 at Willy Street Co-op got a refund that they could either take as store credit, cash money, or have the Co-op donate in their name. In this way, we gave over $175,000 back to our Owners! We are hopeful that in future years, we will see profits that allow us to offer this great benefit again.
Annual Meeting & Party
If you’ve been to our Annual Meeting & Party, you know that it’s no small production. Every summer, we partner with La Fete de Marquette to put on a party for our Owners complete with free dinner and drinks, vendor samples, kids’ activities, and much much more. Though we love doing it, the Annual Meeting & Party does not happen for free—last year we spent a substantial amount to show our Owners a good time at the Annual Meeting & Party.
Eligible Owners are also encouraged to ask about our Access Discount program! This program offers an everyday 10% discount to all Owners whose annual income is less that 130% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. Access Owners are also eligible for a reduced equity payment. For more information, check our website or with Customer Service at either store.