When Willy Street Co-op recently announced the plan to raise $600,000 in 60 days for a new store through an Owner Bond Drive, there was more than a little skepticism. On April 20th, all questions vanished when the Co-op surpassed its goal. From the first Bond sale to until the Bond sale that carried the Co-op beyond its goal, just 21 days has passed.
The Bond drive launched to help open “Willy West” in Middleton will be the second retail site for the 35-year old Madison Co-op. Anya Firszt, general manager of the Co-op provides some perspective on this latest effort. “In 1999 it took us 15 months to raise $445,000 for our move to our current site,” reports Firszt. “Now in just 21 days we have raised over $600,000 that represents the excitement around this opening. I am overwhelmed by the faith and support that Owners have shown us.”
Only fully paid Co-op Owners who are Wisconsin residents may buy the Bonds. Those restrictions did not deter Suzanne German, who is anxious to have Willy West as her new neighbor. “We joined the Co-op so we could buy Bonds,” remarks German. “We see our Bonds as an investment in our neighborhood andhope manyothers feel the same way.”
The Co-op has mailed out over 500 Bond packets to interested parties and they want to make sure that any Owner who wants to buy a Bond can do so. The end of the Bond drive will come when the when sales reach the Board-approved limit of $1 million dollars and, as of April 28th, the total was already $776,800.
Ingrid Rothe is one of those Co-op Owners who does not intend to let this opportunity pass. Rothe served on the Second Site Advisory Committee, the group of Owners entrusted to evaluate possible sites. (The SSAC eventually recommended this site.) “Reaching this goal so early is a remarkable achievement and shows that opening a second site is exactly the right thing for Willy Street Co-op to do. I want to do my part and show my support,” said Rothe.
The excitement surrounding this opening at 6825 University Ave. is not limited to Co-op customers and Owners. Co-op staff has been fielding lots of excitement from local farmers and producers for some time and welcome the chance to broker a situation like this where everybody wins.
Steve Pincus of Tipi Produce sees a real boon for many local farms. “The Co-op is the primo client,” he said. “They work with you and couldn’t be nicer. Now the second store will give other farmers the opportunity to start the kind of relationship we began with the Co-op so many years ago.”
No doubt the farms currently supplying the Co-op that have the capacity to expand will be able to do so with minimum risk and the new doors will be wide open in the fall for Willy Street Co-op to purchase more local produce and products.