Q: The seasons mural on the east side of the [Willy East] building is phenomenal. I could spend hours gazing at it. The artistry of the design & detail is stunning. The coop is very lucky to receive this artistic labor. I hope the artist will be compensated & I also really hope you preserve this mural for years.
A: Thanks for the compliments! We’ll make sure they are shared with the artist, Ryan Haimerl, who was compensated for his work, indeed! As General Manager Anya Firszt reported in our September 2015 Reader, per the arrangements made with the Marquette Neighborhood Association Arts Committee, the loading dock wall will have a rotating painted exhibit. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
recycling Plastic bags
Q: I recently read a letter from a customer regarding the use of plastic bags at the Coop. I too loathe plastic bags and avoid taking one from businesses as much as I can. However, it is my understanding that most plastic bags (including produce bags, wrappings around TP and paper towel, etc.) are recyclable. Most grocery stores have bins to dispose of these. I would encourage everyone to recycle their plastic bags.
A: Willy Street Co-op management decided to discontinue collecting recyclable plastic bags from customers at East for a few reasons:
- The City of Madison asked Willy East to be a plastic bag drop-off site but they weren’t always able to pick up the full bags of collected bags. We ended up having to run them ourselves to the City drop-off site, which was a weekly labor expense for us.
- The volume of collected bags was too great for us to store when we needed the space to store back stock of groceries and supplies for the running of the store. We just did not have the room to store 14 to 16 sixty-gallon trash bags full of plastic bags while we waited for the weekly run to the drop-off site.
- The City of Madison started accepting plastic bagsin its municipal recycling program.
- Willy East lost space in the foyer during the remodel for the additional collection point, and it was decided that, because of the other resources available to our customers, we did not want to clutter that space.
We do still collect and haul to the drop-off site plastic bags generated in our “back of house” operations, such as bags that bulk items come in, bags from solar salt for our water softener, etc. Plastic wrap from incoming pallets and from cases of product that gets stocked on the shelves gets bagged and recycled by our waste contractor, Recycle America. Thanks for your comment. –Jim Jirous, Maintenance Manager–East
Q: Please carry the Homeless Coop newspaper “PULSE” in your store with an honor box. I’d appreciate being able to get it anytime I visit the coop instead of waiting for someone selling it. Do a trial period if need be!
A: Thank you for the idea. We will share it with Street Pulse! I’m so glad you purchase Street Pulse and enjoy the paper.
The Street Pulse vendors outside the Co-op (and anywhere else you may see them in the area) sell the paper as a means of professional development. The face-to-face time is part of their business model. As it says on their website at www.streetpulsehomelessnewspaper.org, “A Vendor is a person that have chosen to help themselves. They are homeless or marginalized and are trying to work their way up into a better position in their life.” The ways that Street Pulse recommends customers get the paper are: “Get paper from one of our Vendors” or “Subscribe, give a gift subscription.” Information about subscribing is on their homepage, and subscriptions come in either paper or PDF format. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
group Lunch orders
Q: We enjoy using the co-op for group lunches and events where people can order sandwiches from the deli. We get everyone’s orders, call them in and pick them up. Could you please make your website easier to use for printing out the delimenu to share with people? The black background wastes toner if we go to print the menus out—and the images themselves are so big that we have to print out a page for the cold sandwiches and a page for the hot sandwiches. This is very inefficient. If we could have a downloadable PDF menu that lists the hot and cold sandwiches on a single B&W sheet it would be much more useful. Ideally, if you had a downloadable order form that included sandwiches, drinks, chips and cookies/fruit options—we would order more regularly. We understand that you aren’t a Jimmy Johns or a Chipotle with on-line ordering or a large focus on becoming a sandwich shop. That being said, if we were able to get some simple forms, we would give you more business and I would imagine other businesses would as well. Thanks for always being there!
A: Thanks for the suggestion! This is on our to-do list, and after we get Willy North up and going, we’ll be working on this. We hope to have this done by September 1st. Have a nice weekend! –Brendon Smith, Director of Communications
Good customer service
Q: Recently, I visited Willy Street West and had the pleasure of meeting one of your employees who took the time to introduce me to the store. I don’t think this was his job, but I found him stocking and asked him about it. He was able to give me a very positive and enthusiastic picture of the advantages of joining the Co-op. It is not often that we find such dedicated employees. I fully appreciated the assistance of this young man so felt that I needed to let you know how much it was appreciated. My family owned a business in Madison and so I understand the importance of good employees. I would consider him a valuable team person who is a good representative of the Co-op. He should be in sales or instruction! My mother and I are considering joining because of this. Please extend my gratitude. I asked him his name and he said Ben Aerts.
A: Thanks for passing on the kind words for Ben! I have forwarded your letter to our Grocery Manager at West, Mike Schmidt, and to Ben himself. We appreciate your business, and hope to see you and your mother in the store again soon. Take care. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I’ve always been somewhat disturbed by signs reading “If you sprinkle while you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat” (currently at Willy East). I would respectfully request that any individual who could potentially unleash any sprinkling, in large or small amounts, do what I hope most of that population does; simply lift the seat until the risk has passed. I’m not sure if that procedure has a cute rhyme, but I believe it is more sanitary.
A: Thanks for contacting us! When we review or update our bathroom signage, we’ll keep your request in consideration to help us improve it. –Brendon Smith, Director of Communications
Breakfast at the Co-op
Q: Your breakfast buffet could be more popular on weekdays in general, but it occurred to me that many of the folks in the ’hood are retiring, and many are showing up here for breakfast on occasion. SO, my suggestion that perhaps would benefit coop image, possibly bring in more members, and benefit seniors on tight budgets (who are increasingly isolated)—offer a weekday breakfast card for seniors at two levels, one level to include small coffee. Keep the choice of the buffet completely open but (to keep the food amount reasonable), add a surcharge if over by x amount of ounces. Cashiers weigh the plates anyway, so no extra work, and registers could be programmed to add the surcharges (if needed). Keep the price at a decent senior discharge, so it would make sense to eat breakfast here M-F Offer a punch card by day and/or a weekly card. It might take a while to catch on, so keep it as a pilot program for several months and evaluate much later. I suspect, however, that with the growth of seniors on the east side, it would be a popular thing to do in the the mornings. It would (as noted) build coop reputation and help out a population segment that needs the social and nutritional routine.
A: Thanks for the suggestion. Many years ago, the Co-op did have a discount program for seniors, and it was decided through work and input from staff, the Board and Owners that it would be more equitable to our entire community of Owners if we offered discount programs based on financial need rather than demographics. The program was replaced by our Access Discount Program, which offers 10% off all product (including our prepared foods) to any Owner that can demonstrate they are utilizing one or more of the following: QUEST, Medicaid (BadgerCare/SeniorCare), WIC, Section 8 Housing, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or FairShare CSA Coalition Partner Shares. If they are not utilizing one of those programs, Owners may also demonstrate eligibility by verifying gross income within the last year has been at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. For more information about this program, please visit www.willystreet.coop/access-discount-program. We’re glad to hear you enjoy our breakfasts and appreciate your concern for those with tight budgets. Thanks again. –Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I’ve recently been hearing a lot about how most sunscreens are destroying coral reefs as they wash off our skin. Do you carry any that are, for lack of a better term, reef-friendly? If so, is there a way they can be labeled as such onthe shelves?
A: Great question! There is no regulated reef-safe labeling, however we’ve been working on making sure that all of our sunscreen options are well rated with Environmental Working Group—you may be familiar with their website www.skindeep.org. They rank sunscreens (and other bodycare products)—a ranking of 2 or less is considered to have the best quality ingredients, and we’ve strived to only carry products with a rank of 2 or less. It just so happens that the chemicals that are considered harmful to reefs—oxybenzone, butylparaben, etc.—are not present in products that EWG ranks with 2 or less. Basically, any (please be sure to read labels, ingredients change and we don’t always catch them) sunscreen we have should not have chemicals harmful to reefs. I have also read that using water-resistant and tested biodegradable sunscreens that are free of the above chemicals is another way to keep our reefs save.
I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions. –Angela Pohlman, Category Manager–Wellness