Wow, what an exciting time to be part of Willy Street Co-op! Today, at the time of this writing, marked a special day in our Co-op’s history. On August 15th, our brand new North store opened its doors for business! This is a moment for Owners, Board, staff and the entire community to celebrate together. I’m celebratingthe hard work, dedication and collaboration I witnessed go into everything leading up to this moment. I’m also celebrating the new Owners, new staff, new neighbors, new products, new vendors and new adventures we will have together through the new Willy North.
The new and exciting continues—we also have three new Board members to welcome and get to know! In July, you elected Owners Pat Butler, Jess Pernsteiner and Bruce Slaughenhoupt to serve on our Board, and our August meeting was our first time all together. Over the coming months, we will share more about each new Board member so you can get to know them, too. This month, we hear from Bruce…
Holly Fearing: How did you first learn about cooperatives? And what was the first co-op you joined?
Bruce Slaughenhoupt: I had heard of co-ops when I was younger, but had not been a part of one until my partner and I joined Willy Street Co-op when we moved to Madison in 2005. Since then, we have occasionally participated in the CSA farm co-ops. I am also very pleased to now be a member of Group Health Cooperative (GHC) as the Willy Street Co-op provides outstanding healthcare benefits to its staff members.
HF: You’re not only serving the Co-op as a Board member, but you’re also a staff member. What perspective will that allow you to bring to the Board?
BS: One of the primary reasons I ran for a seat on the Board as a staff member is because I am able to communicate very directly from Owners as well as other staff and hope to bring what I hear to the Board as a way to make sure their voices are heard. As a staff member I am also able to directly see the impact that improvements and other changes
have on our Owners’ shopping experiences.
HF: What are you most excited about in being a new Board member, and what do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges the Co-op will face over the next few years?
BS: I am most excited to have the opportunity to learn more about how the Co-op functions and to represent Owners and staff as the Co-op moves forward. A good challenge the Co-op is working on now involves the development of more consistency throughout the three retail sites and the Production Kitchen while still honoring the uniqueness of each site’s location and shoppers. I am hopeful we will also be able to expand further and provide healthy food at a reasonable price to more Owners.
HF: What are your favorite food traditions?
BS: My favorite food traditions are good old American comfort food that I grew up eating as a child. As an example, my mom has a heart of gold, but she still makes her mac and cheese with Velveeta. Fortunately, my partner is a fantastic cook and he has introduced me to many more flavors and traditions.
HF: What do you rely on Willy Street Co-op for? And when you’re hungry, what are your top three Willy Street Co-op foods you must have?
BS: I rely on the Co-op for so many things. I trust its produce and dairy goods will be fresh and organic. I know the farmers that provide goods to the Co-op are being paid a fair wage. I know that people working there are being treated with respect and their main priority is providing outstanding customer service.
I know I can buy just about everything I am going to need for household cooking and cleaning except for bleach (for laundry) and green Jello (for my mom’s holiday “green Jello salad” recipe).
Currently, I also rely on the Co-op for health benefits and find a great deal of enjoyment working with my colleagues at the store. I started working at the Co-op after I retired from a more demanding career in healthcare. Friends and former colleagues tell me I look much more relaxed and a few have even said I look younger and happier, so I guess I rely on the Co-op for that too!
I’d have to say my top three foods are: Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, Rudi’s Country Morning Bread, and my newest favorite as of last night is an Alden’s Organic Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bar.
HF: Is there anything else you’d like our Owners to know?
BS: I would like our Owners to know that I appreciate their voting for me and electing me to the Board. I would also like them to know that they should feel free to approach me with any questions or concerns they might have. I can usually be found in the Bulk aisle or stocking groceries at Willy West. Please stop in and say “hi!”