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Customer Comments

Write Us!
We welcome your comments and give each one attention and serious consideration. Send them to

or fill out a Customer Comment form in the Owner Resources area. Each month a small selection is printed in the Reader. The rest can be found in the commons orin the binder near Customer Service. Thank you!

More bathrooms
Q: Another women’s restroom please!!

A: Hello there, Thanks for sharing your hope for another women’s restroom at Willy East. We hear you! Our remodel plans—which we are starting to execute right now—include three gender-neutral customer restrooms and one more staff restroom than we have now. We hope the result will be little-to-no waiting for restrooms in the future. Thanks again for your input! –Dan Frost, Store Manager–East

The alphabet goes like this
Q: I’m 11 and I noticed that in the children’s area the ABC charts are right next to each other so little kids might get confused with how the ABCs go. For example, it looks like the alphabet goes ABCDOPQRSEFGHI etc.

A: Thanks for noticing this! The signs have been rearranged for the alphabet to read through properly. Thanks again! –Liz Hawley, Cooperative Services Assistant

Q: I really hate coupons. I don’t have time to sift through them and when I have they’re often for things I don’t usually buy. Is there a way you could instead offer a discount when people check out over a certain dollar amount, so those who buy most save most? Also—it’s so traditional grocery store.

A: I think you may be referring to the recent coupon mailer sent by the National Cooperative Grocers Association. At this point, we are only sending that out once per year, so you don’t have to deal with this for a while again. We can also take you off the mailing list for it if you wish. We get those coupons thanks to NCGA’s relationships with those vendors—that is, the vendorspay for the discounts, not us. We occasionally do our own coupons, but not nearly to that level. The vendors create the coupons as an incentive to buy their product rather than a reward for doing so; they wouldn’t support us moving the discount to the register for this reason. But, in profitable years, the Co-op does issue a patronage refund based on the amount you spend at the stores, similar to what you suggest! –Brendon Smith, Director of Communications

Natural flavors
Q: What’s up with all the products you carry that contain “natural flavor?” In my last shopping trip, my vanilla Brown Cow Yogurt and Talenti Strawberry Gelato both had “natural flavor” listed in their ingredients, and you sell many more. As you know, these flavors are often not natural at all, and are derived using chemicals, which, unfortunately, do not need to be disclosed on the label. Large factories are responsible for manufacturing both artificial and natural flavors, intended to ultimately make a food taste so “good” we want more. We do not know if the chemicals used are safe or not, especially since they are not required to be disclosed. I get this is Big Food here, and understand that Target and Wal-Mart will sell these items... but the CO-OP!!! You can (and should!) do better. And do us all a service by not carrying these products with unknown ingredients, with potential health risks, and choosing instead to carry only 100 percent pure, natural and healthy food selections.

A: Thanks for taking the time to write us with your comment!! I understand your misgivings about “natural flavors.” We are a consumer co-op that has Owners with many different tastes. Although we strive to provide products that are clean and often organic, our policy steers product selection positively rather than by process of elimination or exclusion, which allows us to meet customer product requests while improving the standard of our products overall. We do talk to these companies to try to get them to change the ingredients they use, and sometimes we have success. I appreciate your feedback, andwe will consider it as we craft policy moving forward. -Dean Kallas, Grocery Category Manager

take-a-book bookcases
Q: I see someone else has written about the missing Read-To-Go bookcase. Your answer: We won’t have room for a large bookcase with the remodel. Are you kidding? What is the remodel for if not to serve member needs? Which the large Read-To-Go bookcase did/will do, with only a 4’x2’ footprint. Be creative.

A: Thank you for sharing your concerns about making books available to the community. I was not able to pull from the archives the previous comment you speak of, nor was I the person who previously responded, but I have put some pieces of the puzzle together.
The Co-op has every intention of keeping space allocated after the remodel for Owner information and that includes space for the community to share books, brochures and other resources. We recognize this as an important priority for our Owners, and are taking the time necessary to ensure that this need will be met in a way that is organized and appealing. The bookcase near the bathrooms was removed because it was becoming overcrowded due to certain individuals taking advantage of the space provided, and leaving overflow on the Co-op floor. We also felt that it was better to keep community brochures and literature in the front entryway so that more of our Owners would use the information available. The bookcase itself was replaced by a Little Free Library, which promotes the Little Free Library project and will give us the flexibility in the remodel to move the popular book-sharing program to a space that makes the most sense and gets the most use. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Cooperative reciprocity
This is the third timeI’ve contacted Willy Street. I’ve tried the West Side location, so hopefully East will give me the information desired! I’ll be moving to Washington and want to know if my membership will be valid at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op (website:

A: It is possible that Skagit Valley will accept Ownerships from other co-ops around the country, but many co-ops outside of Wisconsin do not. If they do not offer reciprocity, one option would be for you to withdraw your Ownership from Willy and then get a new Ownership at Skagit Valley when you move. The Fair Share amount is redeemable to the Owner within 90 days of written resignation from the Co-op. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if this is the option you would like to exercise.
Please let me know if I can assist you further. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Gift cards
Do you sell gift cards via email or the internet? My sister lives in Middleton and is a member at your co-op. I prefer to get her a Christmas gift she can use and am wondering if you sell gift cards. Since I don’t live in your area, I would need to purchase one via the internet or mail.

A: What a thoughtful gift of good food! Gift cards can be ordered remotely in any amount. You can call us and pay for it by credit card, and then we’ll mail it to you or hold it at the desk. The store closest to your sister is Willy West and their number is 608-284-7800. Happy holidays! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Sea veggies
Q: Kombu from Atlantic waters, please. Sea veggies from Pacific are very polluted from radioactive water (Fukushima). Look into the issue—radioactive fish off Pacific coast of US. (I’m a member but live in California).

A: Thank you for sharing your concerns about kombu with us. I spoke with Patrick Humiston in our Grocery department to find out more about what our staff knows pertaining to this issue. Turns out we are well aware and have noted other Owners sharesimilar concerns, but Pacific is all that is available to us currently from our distributor, United Natural Foods. We did have an Atlantic variety from Maine Coast but this hasn’t been available for months now. We will continue to keep eyes and ears open for Atlantic sources.
In the meantime, Eden Organics offers a kombu from the northernmost part of Japan, and claim to do extensive testing before harvesting and packaging. Eden Organics’ President and Chairman Michael Potter’s latest statement regarding nuclear radiation food safety was posted on their website in November of 2011 and claims “efforts, both here and in Japan, have been continuously successful in avoiding radiation contamination of Eden imported foods from Japan, and that tests clearly and unequivocally demonstrate this.” You can read the full statement which includes information about their testing methods at:
Thanks for reminding us to continue considering this topic of interest. We appreciate the heads up. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

We inadvertently omitted a key word in a Customer Comment we published last month. It should have read: “...We source the sour cream from Westby Creamery Dairy Cooperative in Westby, WI, which is farmer-owned and uses all Rbst-FREE (Recombinant bovine somatotropin) (and some organic) milk in their production...”

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