Thank you to all who filled out the customer survey in May! Along with voting on Board members and major initiatives, and filling out customer comments, the survey is another way to let us know in what direction you would like your Co-op to go. We wanted to discuss some of your responses more in-depth.
Products purchased here
Question three asked what products you purchased most often at the Co-op and why. Produce and bulk were at the top of the list, along with a number of staple products. We consider ourselves to have the best produce (local and organic, of course, but even conventional) in the area, and the largest bulk department, so these answers weren’t too surprising to us. The reasons why—”organic, quality, bulk, fresh, local, price, selection and best”—were also expected. We loved hearing that we were meeting or exceeding your expectations in these ways.
Products purchased elsewhere
Question four had a surprise for us: rice was a top product customers purchased elsewhere! That tells us we should put a sign by our packaged rice suggesting customers check out the rice in the bulk aisle; it is much less expensive there, and you can get as much as you’d like, whether it’s a cup or 10 pounds. Again, staple items were mentioned for products being purchased elsewhere: meat, milk, produce, canned foods, bread, toilet paper. The overwhelming reason why you purchased them elsewhere was price. We have been working on reducing prices in the last few years, and your feedback is very helpful in showing us where we need to focus.
Because of Willy Street Co-op…
For question five, we asked for your top three ways to complete the sentence “Because of Willy Street Co-op…” The top result by far was “shoppers can choose more locally produced items, and local farmers and food producers are supported and thriving,” with 82% of respondents choosing that for one of their options. Helping local suppliers is in our mission statement. About one-third of the products we sell are local. In September we launched the Retail Ready Lab, which gives small local businesses valuable feedback to help them sell their products successfully. As you can see (and no doubt have seen), “local” is a major priority for your Co-op.
Thirty-one percent of respondents chose “the community has a means to advance environmental protection and sustainability locally.” We compost our food waste at each of our sites (four stores, a production kitchen and a business office), we participate in the MG&E wind power program, and we have solar panels and a solar thermal system at Willy East (the only site we own rather than lease). When you CHIP at the register, 19 local nonprofits working for the environment, sustainability, food, and farms receive much-needed funding.
The third-most frequently chosen option for question five was “local non-profit organizations are supported through CHIP and other giving programs.” Giving back is also a core part of what we do; “Concern for Community” is the seventh cooperative principle. Since we started collecting for Community CHIP we have provided over $2 million to local non-profits, thanks to your generosity. We also make hundreds of donations of gift cards and food to nonprofits, as well as sponsor many major festivals and events around the area, totalling over $100,000 each year.
And twenty-three percent of respondents chose the “people and families of all economic backgrounds have a place to buy safe and healthy food” option. While this has always been important to Willy Street Co-op, in the last few years we made some huge strides in this regard: launching a Double Dollars program, piloting a Fruit & Vegetable Prescription program, participating in the WIC program at Willy North, increasing outreach about the Access Discount Program, and more.
Ways to communicate
We asked for the top two ways you wanted us to communicate with you and the newsletter and email were the top choices. You can receive the newsletter and the weekly Owner Rewards sales flyer via email if you’d like. Next year we’ll also be working on more ways for you to get information via email, if you are interested.
As I mentioned, we have been working on improving our pricing, and you noticed! You rated our prices more favorably this year compared to last year. The spike in the middle of the chart roughly matches the findings of our price comparison on page 10: when matching product for product, our prices are in line with other local grocery stores.
Thanks again for your feedback and your patronage!