Q: There is a young man conducting bible studies – one on one- several evenings per week at Willy North. Religious freedom is not protected in public places and I find this highly offensive/inappropriate.
A: Thanks for sharing your concerns with us. Without your providing us with your name or contact information, I am answering this question with the facts that you provided, and I am assuming these meetings are private conversations being had in our North commons between two people.
The Co-op is not a public place; it is a private business owned by 34,700+ people, and we value the diverse interests of both our Owners and other public customers. While we are a secular organization that does not offer, advertise or sponsor events with religious purpose or content, we are also open to all, without religious discrimination. People are welcome to use tables in our commons to have private conversations with other consenting individuals, and we do not intervene unless the conversation has become disruptive. If the young man you speak of is speaking too loudly, is soliciting customers to have a discussion, or is engaging people who do not give him consent to speak with them, please let a manager on duty know when it is happening and we would be happy to review the rules of the commons with him. However, if he is talking with someone who wishes to talk with him, we believe they are within their rights to discuss or study topics of the choosing privately.
Please let us know if you have an further questions or concerns. –Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Q: The commons at North is so warm and inviting. The long table with fresh flowers, fireplace, toy area, computer access and lots of windows! Love it! Thank you. Oh, and water filter, too! Well done!
A: Thank you for taking the time to write to us, sharing your positive experience at Willy North. I have shared your comment with the rest of the staff to enjoy. Thanks again for reaching out. Hearing from folks like you really makes our day! Have a great one yourself! –Robert Halstead, Owner Resources Coordinator
Q: Hello, I have three thoughts about the bulk sections. 1) If the bulk items typically stocked at each store could be listed on the new website, that would be amazing. Prices and current stock wouldn’t be necessary. 2) Bulk freezer section for items like blueberries, peas, etc. (Seattle has it: https://imgur.com/tXcTX2c). It’s possible this exists and I’ve missed it. 3) It would be awesome if you could advertise how the bulk foods come packaged, it would allow owners to make more educated decisions about what they purchase and how. This could be on the website or part of the bulk foods course (which I haven’t taken yet, so it’s totally possible that this already exists).
A: Thanks for your suggestions. We are in the middle of a long-term project that involves the development of an e-commerce website. This site will list, at a minimum, products that will be available for purchase via the site, including bulk items. Pricing will also be included, and we hope that at some point current stock would be available as well; this is a work in progress. With regard to frozen bulk, we have experimented with this in the past and based on movement and space limitations, we have found that it is instead best at our stores to have a mix of product sizes available for customers to choose.
We do have a Simply Bulk class that is free for customers to take and learn about the bulk aisle, and we also have a brochure with preparation guidelines. We have also produced videos about using the bulk aisle in the past as well. The classdoes talk about the various ways one can shop in bulk. Sizes and bulk packaging vary frequently, and so if there is a specific volume you are seeking the best recommendation we have is to ask a bulk buyer. We will keep your thoughts about bulk education in mind as the new website is being developed.
Please let us know if we may assist you further! -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Q: I am totally opposed to more expansions. As a Member since about the beginning in the early 70s, I complained about your first expansion. Why can you apply some funds to price relief many of my friends and maybe me too in the near future I won’t be able to afford you.
A: Thank you for supporting us all these years and for sharing your opinion about Co-op expansion. We just held a vote of the Ownership regarding two types of expansion: expanding our West location and pursuing a possible expansion over the next three years. For West, the Ownership passed the referendum to pursue expansion by about 85% of the votes cast, and for general expansion, the referendum was passed by about 77% of the votes cast. While we know that not everyone agrees that the Co-op should pursue a path of expansion, we will continue to follow the voice of the majority of those who participate in our decision-making processes.
As we have said during discussions of previous expansions, we do not raise or lower prices to support expansion, we base our prices on what the products cost for us to put on the shelves and how we can then price them competitively with other grocers of our size in the area. Expansion has actually contributed to our ability to price better, thanks to building the ability to purchase inventory in greater volume.
We do apply funds to price relief: we have an Access Discount Program for shoppers with low income to receive 10% off groceries, and we are also now contributing Co-op money saved when people reuse shopping bags to the City’s Double Dollars program that helps shoppers using FoodShare/QUEST at the Co-op and participating farmers’ markets purchase more fresh foods. We are also contributing labor and marketing support to the pilot Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program offered at UW Health Northeast Family Medical Center in partnership with the City, County and Second Harvest to offer patients who screen positive for food insecurity vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the Co-op. Last year, we removed our surcharge, a barrier to those who are trying out our Co-op from receiving shelf prices for our products, and we also began offering new Owner benefits: making Wellness Wednesday sales, Meat Sale Thursday, Fish Sale Friday at North, and flash sales benefits to Owners that also provide price relief. I also encourage you to check out and subscribe to our Owner Rewards sales fliers and to also look for our everyday Co+op Basics sales in the stores, where you have great opportunities to get great products at a low cost.
As always, please let us know if you have further questions or concerns. We appreciate the dialogue with our Owners. -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Best Party Ever
Q: Best co-op party ever! Giftbag and food lines well laid out. All three-meal options were fantastic! (Can you carry those spinach cheese tamales in store?) Really fun free samples and free gifts. Kudos to all staff who made it happen.
A: Thank you for the feedback! I’ll share it with the others who helped make it a great event. We will also be talking with Tamaleria el Poblano about bringing in those cheese and spinach tamales. They made them specially for us for this event because the jalapeño ones were too spicy for some people. We hope to see you there next year! -Brendon Smith, Communications Director
Q: Dear Co-op employee, Willy St Co-op encourages members to vote for their board and other topics—and says they will provide us with results—yet I can’t find the results in my inbox, or on your website. Instead, I read in the paper that voters approved the expansion of Willy West. Shouldn’t members hear about that from the co-op before reading it in the press?? Also, could Willy North handle the 16 oz Blue Farm Organic Corn Chips instead of the 12 oz? Blue Farm is very local, doesn’t spray the environment with poisons, and deserves a pallet full of chips to be sold at a bulk/sale price down by the frozen section. Seems like a natural fit with the Co-op member’s ethics rather than Frontera chips owned by ConAgra corporation and shipped thousands of miles to our mouths. Thanks!
A: Sorry to hear that it was difficult for you to find the vote results. We posted the vote results on our website and shared on social media as soon as they were available and we also posted the results on signage in the stores. I have also passed on and logged your request for the larger size Blue Farm Organic Corn Chips to the grocery team at North. Please let us know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Q: So, I learned the hard way today that you shouldn’t pick up a glass bottle of Kombucha after trying on hand lotion. On the bright side, I also learned that you have amazing employees. I was so embarrassed when the bottle fell to the floor in the checkout line and broke. A cashier at Willy North was wonderful, making me feel better, saying exactly the right thing, and easing my mortification in the kindest way. (Oh, and she and two other employees offered to go get another bottle of the flavor I dropped.) Seriously, it seems like a little thing, but it was big to me, a person who is rather shy and self-conscious even when I haven’t just shattered a glass bottle in public. Employees who are that kind and generous don’t occur in a vacuum. Thank you for hiring wonderful people and creating a working environment that allows them the freedom to be kind and thoughtful and connect on a human level. And please tell the cashier that she’s the best!
A: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us! We’ve all had our moments, and I’m glad our staff was there to make yours a bit better. I’ve passed on your positive feedback to the cashier and her supervisor. Have a great weekend! -Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director