BOODY BAMBOO COLORS
Q: Hi! Longtime owner, infrequent commenter. I have purchased several pairs of Boody bamboo underwear and would like to purchase more. I’m really glad that I can pick up a product like this at a locally owned business that values environmental and social justice. However, I do have one complaint—not about the product itself, but the labeling. I typically purchase black items, but recently I noticed that their beige-colored fabric is labeled “nude.” I’m uncomfortable with the default assumption that “nude” equals “light-colored.” (As a white woman, the “nude” tone doesn’t match my skin, either.) This creates cognitive dissonance when I shop at a storethat purports to stand for equality of all people. The Co-op’s product selection philosophy states that “we are committed to...products which represent our Owners’ diverse values and contribute to healthy, just, tolerant and viable communities.” Currently, I believe that these products do not meet this standard. I do not plan to purchase them until this changes. While it may seem that this is a small point of contention, it is an important one for the people I care about whose skin color and identities are regularly marginalized—including many employees and Owners of the co-op. Thankfully, this seems like a pretty easy solution for the company to make: simply label its light-colored products “beige” or “ecru” or similar. This comment is adapted from a letter I sent to Boody USA’s corporate staff. Will you consider communicating with the company at the retailer level and asking them to make this change as well? Will you encourage employees, Owners and fellow retailers to do the same? I look forward to purchasing more undies after this change takes place :) Thanks for your consideration!
A: Thank you for your feedback - I agree that using “Nude” as a color description is not thoughtful and needs to change. I appreciate you taking the time to write the company and us!
I will make sure this is communicated with the company with our voice as a retailer, and I will speak to the stores and see if we want to consider only carrying the Black and White - those currently sell much more anyway. Thank you for writing! –Angela Pohlman
Q: Hi Angela,Thank you for your quick response! I must say that I wasn’t expecting such a speedy reply from you OR the company—as evidenced by the message I am forwarding you below. Thank you again for being awesome.
“Thank you very much for your note and your thoughtful comments about our color coding system.
“First of all, we want to ensure you that the Boody Brand shares values such as those you articulate in your note. Our commitment to diversity has no bounds and we will always strive to do that which is in the best interests of our retailers, our customers, and our team members.
The word ‘nude’ has long been established as an industry standard in the woman’s apparel industry and our use of same has been in keeping with that long held industry standard. That said, we have read and re-read your note and completely understand your concern and, yes, we agree with you. Nude for whom?
“As you might expect, we have product in stores, we have merchandisers in stores and we have product, already produced and being shipped to us, and we must sell through that product. We are committed though, and you have our word, that we will now change the designation of “nude” to another, color-specific word that more accurately describes what that product is so that any Boody customer can choose it for their wardrobe.
“We cannot thank you enough for bringing this to our attention and for your past and, we hope, future Boody purchases and for this piece of enlightenment. Regards.”
Q: Hi, I know this is a long shot and am assuming you won’t be able to get any in but I am looking for oysters from Maine, any chanceyou would ever maybe be able to get them in even for like a small amount of time or something (and if not do you know of anywhere that sells them?) thanks!
A: Hi. The Seafood Center runs the seafood department at our east and west locations, and if you shop at one of those locations I would recommend just talking to them. The Co-op runs the North location Seafood department and I can look into Maine oysters for you there.
In the future, since seafood is so seasonal and availabilities change daily, I would just recommend talking to the seafood staff at each location. They are the ones who talk to the fishmongers on a daily basis, and would be able to special order most anything with enough notice. Thank you, Jeremy Johnson, Meat Category Manager
Q: Hello, I’m hoping to order a large tray of sushi for my wedding on sep 23rd. I’d like to pick up the sushi from the coop around 12 pm. The tray would be for 10 people. We’ll be supplementing with some other items so it doesn’t need to be a full meal for each person. I’d like it to consist of a combo of salmon-cado, tuna-cado, and garden veggie rolls. Is this something you are able to do? if so what are my options and what are the prices? Thanks so much!
A: We outsource our sushi production to Shinzen Sushi. If you would like to place a catering order, I would recommend coming in and talking to the sushi chef at East. He will be able to take your order and give you pricing. If you have any other questions please let me know. Thank you, Jeremy Johnson, Meat Category Manager
MULTIPLYING YOUR DOLLAR
Q: Kirsten’s article “Multiplying Your Dollar’s Value When You Shop Local” was excellent! The graphic really enhanced the piece—even if you don’t read the whole article, that provides a great synopsis. Very informative and persuasive- I’m impressed!!
I’m also very proud to be part of such a “conscious” organization on so many levels. The Retail Ready Lab is very exciting and helps to begin filling a gaping need for microbusinesses. Kudos!
A: Thanks so much for the kind words! It’s always great to hear when people read what we write! I’ve made sure that our Graphic Designer Hallie Zillman, our Newsletter Editor Liz Wermcrantz, and our Purchasing Department also know you appreciated our work. We appreciate your support! Have a great week! -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Q: I very much enjoy the customer comments section of the Reader and am glad it has expanded past half a page. I think they used to be crazier, but some are still pretty enjoyable.
Lately, I have been disappointed to see comments and responses repeated in subsequent issues. Most recently it was about bulk items and how there is a co-op in Seattle with frozen bulk items. Maybe this is very important and bears repeating. More likely, though, there is a breakdown in making sure comments are not published twice. I’m not sure if there’s an easy solution, but I hope one can be found
A: Oh no!!! That is purely a mistake. Thank you so much for pointing it out! This isn’t supposed to happen. I will tighten up my selection process. Thank you again! -Liz Wermcrantz, Reader Editor
Q: I told you should have more cans where we can donate in cash. For instance I and many people hate phone and Email cause they continue to bother you. I will donate cash to porchlight but one in a can or jar. Then they can’t get my personal Info.
A: Thanks for the suggestion. We do not have a specific fundraiser for Porchlight running presently, and when we do fundraisers for anyone, we do them through our registers because that is the safest way to ensure that your donation will be received by the organizations designated to benefit from the fundraiser. There is always a greater risk of theft with a donation jar. When we send donations on your behalf to the organizations we support through the registers, they are sent in a lump sum with no details about the customers who contributed. So you can rest assured that you would not receive more emails or phone calls from nonprofit organizations due to your making donations at our registers. Please let me know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
CO-OP ART SHOWS
Q: Hello - I am a local artist with an undergraduate and graduate degree in fine art from UW Madison. After a few years off to focus on my graphic design business I’d like to start showing locally again. I notice that you hang artwork in your cafe/seating areas and I would love to show there. I have shown at Froth House, EVP, Espresso Royale, Tasse Cafe, Mother Fool’s, and others. Could you please have your art director contact me with information? I can email images of my most recent series which are abstract flowers done in acrylic.
A: Thanks for your interest! As an Owner you definitely qualify to use our art gallery spaces, located in the community rooms at East and West and in the commons at North. We offer use of space to Owners, Co-op staff, nonprofits, schools, and other cooperatives and collectives. Use of the room is free of charge and artwork must be nondiscriminatory and suitable for all ages. Proposals for use of the Gallery should be submitted two months in advance of exhibit opening and will be reviewed and approved upon a first come first-served basis. Exhibits will last for eight (8) weeks. Due to the mixed use of the room, art pieces that do not mount flat to the wall or are three dimensional in nature are not recommended. All art will be approved on a case-by-case basis.
We book spaces per location. To book and sign our gallery agreements, please contact the specific location(s) where you are interested in exhibiting.
• Willy East: Amanda Ikens 608-251- 6776 x2322, a.ikens@willystreet. coop
• Willy North: Robert Halstead 608- 509-3120, r.halstead@willystreet. coop
Please let me know if I may assist you further! -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
GOOD JOB, MAINTENANCE CREW
Q: Just wanted to say the East entryway floors are looking amazing. You all must have a hell of a maintenance squad. Thanks!
A: Thank you for noticing and taking the time to comments! We do have a great maintenance crew and they do great work! –Jim Jirous, Facilities Director
Q: The bulk bins that utilize scoops re often filled so full that they cannot be used without spilling the contents. Would greatly appreciate it if more care could be taken to not overfill.
A: Sorry you’ve had issues with overly full scoop bins in the bulk section! I will certainly pass this feedback along to our bulk crew. Thanks for taking the time to let us know your concerns. –Liz Patterson, assistant Grocery Manager—East
Q: Congratulations on the ballot initiative results. The owners voted to expand Willy West and the other ballot initiative to begin another expansion project within the next 3 years. The local newspaper reported that the latter project could be expansion of the central kitchen or a fourth new store. Presumably that decision has not been made, or the ballot would have been more specific.
This should be a simply decision, but it is not. The central kitchen needs to be sized and equipped to support the co-op’s network of stores. The co-op can probably add two more stores in Madison and the contiguous cities before its locations compete with one another. That could suggest that the co-op needs to scale the central kitchen to serve a five-store network. The problem occurs not in this expansion but in the one that follows.
Let’s pretend that this is the future. Willy North is profitable, and so are the imaginary stores in southwest Madison and Sun Prairie. Now I arrive at the point of difficulty. Theboundary line for metropolitan Madison is not the limit line for the co-op’s service area, nor should it be. Here are questions for reflection before the co-op spends up to 10 percent of owner equity on the expansion project.
1. What is the service area? Is it Dane County alone or, say, could it also include Rock County and, in particular, Janesville and Beloit with 90,000 in population? Expansion might be more effective and efficient by including another large population center.
2. Are there other business opportunities besides opening another store? For example could the central kitchen host a catering service? Competition may be coming from Amazon, which is buying Whole Foods and likes home delivery.
The importance is not so much as on having answers now as it is on being able to act on distant opportunities when they arise. Money needs to be spent wisely. Does the current central question have the space to serve all future stores? If it does, great! If the facility is not big enough, then what? Move the central kitchen to a larger site, or keep the current site and build a satellite kitchen later? Either decision will be okay.
A: What a fantastic comment! Thank you!
Owners did vote in favor of the expenditure of funds for not one, but two projects. However, words were never truer, this is not a simple decision.
Before we embark on a fourth project, we need to make sure our three retails and kitchen are doing their level best from an operational standpoint. The remodel at Willy West is our first endeavor to grapple with, then the kitchen.
But, before we consider building or relocating to a new kitchen, our new Kitchen Director has made some critical changes to the existing operation that should help answer some of the questions you asked. We have shifted to extended hours that will allow us to push production capacity without changing the footprint; by spreading staffing out throughout the day so they are not working at the same time of day we should gain improved production and maybe even improved staff morale! Can we push to provide production for more than our current three sites, we’ll soon see. We’ll also be able to push the catering envelop there a bit as well.
As for boundaries, really good question. We have thus far remained focused on locating in established neighborhoods in the greater Madison area. We have worked with co-op organizers in outlying areas to help them start co-ops, but as you know we have not decided to cross those city/county lines. We have been asked to locate in Janesville and Milwaukee (even LaCrosse), but each have at least one co-op, and we encourage those people to work with those co-ops.
I agree that an established co-op can have an easier go at opening another location than a start up co-op might have locating in the same area/ town (operational capacity and access to capital). Things to think about!
As for other opportunities...
We talk about ways to grow sales without changing or growing the facility footprint, as well as ways to reduce out of stocks by adding deliveries vs. adding backroom space. We are working to revitalize our home delivery program. I plan to share this with the management team to get us thinking more out side the box!
I sure wish I had a crystal ball and could see into our future; stay tuned!
Kind regards, Anya Firszt, General Manager