Welcome July! This month marks the beginning of our new fiscal year, the close of the previous year, and a chance to come together to celebrate our successes of the previous year, and present the plans for the year to come at our Annual Meeting and Party.
This month, we conduct our annual Board election, which is a great opportunity for Owners to have a say in the future of our cooperative and its leadership. We are asking you to exercise your ownership rights by learning more about this year’s candidates and taking the time to vote! This year represents a huge turnover in the makeup of our Board membership, as we have five open Director seats to fill, so your decision of who will represent you couldn’t be more important. If that wasn’t enough for a packed ballot, we are also asking Owners to decide on a proposed bylaw change, as well as for your approval of the expenditure of funds that will allow the Co-op to grow.
Expansion and Remodel of Willy West
Your decision to allow for the expenditure of funds has been presented through two referendums, the first being a request for the expansion and remodel of Willy West. Since opening that store in 2010, we have rapidly grown, reaching capacity in sales and the limits of an ideal shopping experience within a small space. With the recent changes at Parkwood Plaza, the vacant storefront adjacent to Willy West presents an opportunity for us to spread out and improve upon our store’s layout. This redesign would include rearranging the entrance and seating area, a better configuration of the registers, and other adjustments to provide better flow within and around the store. The annexing of new space will also provide opportunity to increase backroom storage, cooler and freezer walk-in space, which means greater inventory control for staff and fewer out-of-stocks for our Owners. This work will be critical to our efforts to better serve our existing and future Owners while also easing the stress and strain on staff and shoppers. We have budgeted this project not to exceed $2.25 million.
Unknown Expansion Opportunity
The second referendum is the expenditure of funds for a yet unknown expansion opportunity. While it is unclear what form such an expansion might take, receiving Owner approval in advance allows us to more quickly take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and the window of time for a decision may prove small. Possible projects could include the opening of another retail storefront combined with an adjacent Production Kitchen, or perhaps a larger standalone kitchen. What property developments might become available is unforeseeable, but we need to be poised to act quickly when it presents itself. Rest assured, no project would be acted on without due diligence and Board approval. Your vote approving this request gives us the confidence to move forward so that we may act in the best interests of our cooperative and you, its Owners.
Proposed Bylaw Change
The final referendum on the ballot this year is a proposed bylaw change. In order to make any revision to bylaws governing our cooperative, we must have the consent of our Owners (Section VIII: Bylaws, 8.1). The impetus of this proposal is to address an issue of Board conduct not currently governed by our bylaws. As it stands, the Board cannot hold its members accountable to standards of conduct through use or removal except in cases of absence. The strict limits on what constitutes cause for removal of a Board member leave open the possibility of misconduct by our directors without any fear of consequence. To remedy this oversight, our Board has initiated the proposed change in our Bylaws that will allow the removal a Board member for actions in violation of their code of conduct, of failing to act in the best interest of the Co-op. Our Board of Directors as well as management sees this change as a necessary step to continue to ensure that those in a position of leadership and fiduciary responsibility within our organization can be held accountable to a standard of practices and behaviors.
We would not ask you to make any of the above decisions lightly, and would encourage our Ownership to be as informed as possible about their choices on this month’s ballot. You can learn more by reviewing the following articles and resources: Board candidate statements can be found on pages 7-11, as well as on our website: www.willystreet.coop. You can also read more about the ballot by reading this month’s Board Report from Board President Holly Fearing on the next page. In addition, you are also invited to engage and ask questions about the ballot in person by attending one of the three information sessions taking place at 6:00pm on July 5th, 6th and 10th, at Willy North, Willy East, and Willy West respectively.
Casting Your Vote
To cast your vote, feel free to pick up and submit a paper ballot at any one of our retails as well as at the Annual Meeting and Party. You may also choose to vote online, provided that we have your current email address! Please take note, only one Owner per household or Ownership number will be able to cast a ballot, and should two members of the same household cast a ballot, only the primary Owner’s ballot will be counted. Please call or stop in to speak with our customer service staff should you need assistance.
Willy North Outside Seating
Due to City requirements for improvements to the nearest bus stop and ADA sidewalk connected to our portion of the parking lot, the approval process for the Willy North seating area has taken much longerthan initially planned. However, the City and property owners (Bruns) have agreed the Co-op should not be held responsible for these municipally required improvements, and I am pleased to report we can proceed with our project while the subsequent bus stop and sidewalk will remain a separate project for the property owner to complete.
Special store hours—closing at 7:30pm
There are two days this month when we will be closing early. The first is on Sunday, July 2nd, in order to allow for our fiscal-year-end physical inventory count. The second is two days later on Tuesday, July 4th, in recognition of Independence Day. On both dates we will close at 7:30pm at all retail sites. I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting and Party (AMP), Thursday, July 13th, Central Park, Madison.