Thursday, June 04, 2009

Whoah! Big e-mail- parking, coffee with the board, food glorious food!

Hi Wheatsville friends.

Big e-mail this week...

Here's what you'll see when you scroll down:

Coffee with the board
Parking changes
Feedback from last week's e-mail
Higher prices?!?!
Summertime and the produce is easy
Picnics and more with the deli
Words frm the lands of cheese and meat
Specials in bodycare and supplements
Super bread deal in grocery
Rush Hour Recipes
A taste of the comments from the surcharge change

Coffee with the Board
This Saturday from 10am-Noon is our monthly Coffee with the Board. This month features our amazing Iced Coffee Toddy from the deli! Drink some coffee, eat some treats and talk to members of your board about the store, the weather, other co-op issues or the transformation of society. They love to see you, so come on out and hang under our nice new patio with them!

Parking Changes
We're finally at the stage of the project when we'll be regrading and paving the entire driveway. IN a few days, we'll have some drawings posted for you to see this all visually, but for now, allow me to explaing it in writing.
We'll do it in three main phases. The first phase happening now, won't affect you a whole lot. It removes the few spots on the eastern fence temporarily, but doesn't change the main parking and drive path that you have been used to during the project.
Phase two will close the half of the parking lot closest to the patio. You will continue to enter through our normal entrance and be able to park as younormally do on the south half of our lot. (You can also park in Supercuts' spots. They are not towing.) There will also be brand new parking in the northeastern corner of our property. Since the normal exit is blocked for paving, ALL traffic will flow ONE WAY around the new building on the east side, heading north and will exit from the north side of Wheatsville.
Phase three will close the normal entrance way and the parking closest to Supercuts.
Traffic will enter via our normal exit (near the patio) and find parking on their right as well as new additional parking on the east side of the building and in the northeast corner. ALL traffic will flow ONE WAY around the new building on the east side, heading north and will exit from the north side of Wheatsville.
Each of these phases will last about 21 days, so the schedule calls for this last phase to end in late July.

At that time, our new final parking will be in place and we will have about 50 spots!

I won't kid you, these next two months will have their parking challenges and trials. But, we never have less parking than we have had for the past few months, it will just be in a different configuration than we are used to.

Some things you can do to avoid the worst of the parking woes:
Shopping early or late can help. Since we will begin opening early at 7:30am on June 15th, that will give you an even earlier chance to beat the parking pain. We find that parking isn't bad before 10:30 or after 7.
Bike, walk or ride the bus. If you do any of these things, the parking will be no sweat for you.
Follow the flow. Our parking lot is at its worst when people try and "go rogue" and park in unmarked spots or try and swim upstream. Going with the flow and having as much patience as you can will help a lot!

I want to thank you for putting up with all the construction so far and for hoping that you will be able to hang in with us on this last challenging push! We need your business, so we hope you can put up with the parking trials for just a little while longer!

Feedback from last week's e-mail

It's really gratifying to know that so many of you read my weekly e-mails. I really appreciate it. I also love it when I get feedbacl and have a further chance to engage with you about the things you care about. Last week's e-mail announcing the end of the surcharge brought out a lot of responses which was exciting. The posiitve comments, which I wasn't necessarily expecting, far outweighed the disapointed or distressed ones. The margin was easily 5 to 1 in favor of positive. I'll share a few of the comments with you at the end of this e-mail just to give you a flavor... (Scroll on down to the end now if you just can't wait!) I am still eager to answer your questions or field your comments or concerns about this change. We have been thinking about it for years and thinking through the possible ramifications, so this was not a hasty decision, I promise!

Higher prices due to renovation?
One of the most surprising (and honestly baffling) types of comments we have been getting during the renovation have been the ones accusing us of raising our prices to "pay for the renovation". I just want to try and set the record straight and maybe begin to put an end to this erroneous impression.

We have not raised any prices at Wheatsville to pay for the renovation. We raise prices when a manufacturer or distributor raise their price to us and even then we sometimes hold the line on a price and "eat" the increase. We've done this quite a bit in the dairy department over the past year or more for example. We do need to make a certain margin on our total store in order to afford to stay in business and plan for the future, but the renovation was planned at our current levels of pricing, not with any additional price hikes internally.

All that being said, the renovation was paid for by YOU in very important ways. Your regular shopping support before and during the project has allowed us to put the necessary cash into the project. And, 165 of you invested over $700,000 which was the other crucial component that allowed us to get a bank loand from the National Co-op Bank. So, thank you all for the important part you played (and will play) in making this a succesful project!

One more thing, we know that the economy is taking its toll on people and we are working right now on improving the value proposition at Wheatsville. Please keep an eye out for even better Wheatsville values in the coming weeks and months.

Savor the Season: Stone-fruit! 
We like our stone-fruit around here. To some the arrival of Texas peaches marks the beginning of summer. I am one of those people. You may be, too. Despite a devastating late April freeze, we have been getting some phenomenal Texas peaches. In addition to these lovelies, we have been moving through some gorgeous and fragrant organic white peaches, succulent and sweet Organic Yellow Peaches, delicate and delicious Organic Apricots, and Ruby Reds and irresistible Organic Red Cherries. Organic Nectarines, and Organic Pluots arrived today! They are still a little hard, so I can't report on how they taste, but they look great. Come on in and grab (softly) some stone-fruit. This season is just getting started and I am looking forward to some tasty cobblers and pies!
Savor the Season: Melons!
Melons are another indicator that summer is upon us here in Texas. We have personal sized watermelons from Richardson, Texas. These are deep red, and super sweet. Pick up a few for only $2.99 each. Our other melons are really amazing as well. We have organic cantaloupes, organic galia (looks like a cantaloupe outside, looks likes a honeydew inside, tastes musky and delicious!), and organic honeydew! Get your fingers ready for some thumping and pick out some melons!
Organic Grapes!
We currently have organic red, green and black grapes. They are all seedless, sweet, and refreshing. I think you will enjoy them!
It's Easy to Go Local When You Go Co-op!
This is really the time of year for local produce here in Texas. Right now we have a great selection of local organic produce and local sustainable, transitional produce. From Green Gate Farms right here in Austin, we have gorgeous heirloom valley girl tomatoes. These are great for slicing or just eating out of hand. From our friends out in Fredonia, we offering organic zucchini, golden zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers (the best you'll see all year!), fennel, green and red cabbage, green bell peppers, basil and eggplant! Buena Tierra produces some of the finest quality produce available. We love them here! If you haven't tried their products you are missing out! This will be the last week we'll have the golden zucchini available, so if you are planning on grilling, or cooking for guests, get some of these gorgeous artisan gold zukes before they are gone. From Tecolote Farms we have organic bunch carrots. We also have round, golf-ball sized organic bunch carrots from Guinea Hill Farms out in Elgin. Texas blueberries from Nachodoches, and peaches from Cooper Farms in Fairfield, Texas. Eating local seasonal produce is a very easy way to shorten your food chain, and keep money in our community. Go local! Go Co-op!
Follow Us in Produce! Be our Fan!
If you are into Twitter and Facebook, then you should know that your produce department is out there on the internet and wants you to play! Become a fan of the produce department on Facebook here:
Follow us on Twitter here:
We'll be sending out updates and announcements, specials, and notifications of delicious new items via these social media tools. Join us!
From the Deli
Did someone say picnic?
Get the biggest bang for your buck by picking up an all-natural whole, roasted chicken from our grab'n'go section for just $9.99 each! Alongside the brined, juicy chickens you will find plenty of sides already packed for you, including pasta salads, potato salads, veggies, salads, spreads and – to round out your meal – a selection of delicious chilled white wines! Grab a loaf of our freshly-baked artisan bread, on sale all month, a wedge of local Brazos Valley Brie, and some red, ripe raspberries, and you have an outdoor feast with all the trimmings put together in just a few minutes – with plenty of time left for you to have fun in the sun!

This month, we have two stellar Fresh in the Deli recipes for you! The Greek Turkey Burger, from Brattleboro Food Co-op in Brattleboro, Vermont, combines ground turkey with Kalamata olives, feta cheese, garlic, yogurt, mint and dill, creating a Mediterranean-flavored patty that's then grilled over an open flame on our new char-grill! Have it alone over salad or rice, or turn it into a custom-made sandwich at our Deli counter!

Peace In The East Salad comes to us from Neighborhood Food Co-op in Carbondale, IL, and presents a perfect foil to the Greek Turkey Burger! Chopped, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and parsley are tossed in a light lemon-soy yogurt dressing, creating a crunchy, refreshing side dish! We can hardly keep this one in stock!

Our salsa for June is Blackened Pepper Salsa, blending roasted jalapenos with salsa standards like ripe tomatoes, onions, garlic and lime to create a gorgeous and smoky orange salsa speckled with bits of green cilantro.

June's Smoothie of the Month is Strawberry Pineapple, sweet and simple, made with apple juice and frozen fruit, and never watered down with ice! If you haven't already, now is the season to get your smoothie card started – buy nine and get your tenth smoothie free! Just have the cashier punch it on your way out!
And be sure to keep an eye out for our expanding grab'n'go self-serve case – we're committed to keeping all the Wheatsville classics in stock, and filling it up with all of your new favorite salads like Turkish Garbanzo Beans and Shepherd's Salad!
From Greg, in the land of cheese
Hello all!
The Wheatsville cheese department has a few great sales for the month of June. In fact, we are selling tons of these items, especially the Feta, at this sale price.  Organic Valley Farms Raw Cheddar, which is regularly $5.29, is on sale for $4.49. Organic Valley Farms Pepper Jack, Muenster and Feta, which are regularly $5.29, is now $4.29. Organic Valley Farms Stringles 6 pack, which is regularly $5.29, is on sale for the great price of $4.29. (Note: with our new register system, you can see how much you are saving from your grocery bill through our regular sales and owner specials.)
From Bryan, the Butcher
Check out all of the new products we have in the freezer doors in the meat department.  We have Buy One Get One Specials on World Catch Products: Shrimp Scampi, Coconut Shrimp, Ahi Tuna steak, and Salmon steaks.  This sale will be going on while supplies last.  We have a wide selection of Organic Prairie products - grass-fed beef, pork and chicken.

Hey guys and gals! A new month means new price specials to pass on to you. To fully experience the greatness that is the summer grilling season you really need to throw a great big ole steak on the grill. We are going to help you with that. This month you can buy the best steak in town and get a break on the price! Two of our favorite steaks are on special this month with a great discount.

Perhaps the favorite of my @home chefs is the strip steak, which can be cut two ways. The most common cut of strip loin is the New York Strip. This steak is a large cut that can tame any hunger. Retail is $18.99 lb for this steak and this month owners get 35 cents off per pound. A second cut, which seems to be taking off, is the Petite Strip. This is a thicker but half cut strip steak. Its smaller cut makes it less expensive, as it is normally only a 4-5 oz portion. Those who prefer their steaks less done in the middle will like this steak because it makes a great medium rare steak. Also @ $18.99 lb, owners will get 35 cents off per pound.
And let's not forget the king of the grill: the mighty Ribeye!! When you ask a butcher what their favorite steak is, more often than not they will name the ribeye. Large and in charge, this steak sometimes can take over the entire plate…if you let it. There's nothing petite about this awesome cut, it's a carnivore's dream. More meat than you need in a serving, but hey, sometime you just have to treat yourself, or, god forbid…share. These glorious steaks run $22.49 lb, this month owners get 49 cents off per pound.
The Niman Ranch USDA choice prime beef, which is all we use, is 100% black Angus. They are raised in a program referred to as a never, ever program. That means no hormones or antibiotics…ever. That, coupled with the dedication to humane treatment and raising of their animals, results is the most consistent restaurant cuts available in Austin..without having to go out to expensive restaurants and pay through the nose. Read more about their high standards and industry leading protocols at

This is the first month for our new Owner Specials, think of them as paperless coupons! If you have questions please ask one our meat specialist for help with special cuts. As always, if you have a demand for something that's not in the case we will be happy to cut those 2+ inch thick steaks for you. If you have a big party and need several steaks, call ahead and we'll have them ready and waiting for you.

The Health Team is here for you
Visit the new bodycare, vitamin and housewares area and see Nancy, Kim, Miranda, Elke, Ruby or Niki ready to help you!
On Sale in Bodycare:
Dr Bronners Bar Soap $2.69
Ancient Secret Neti Pots: $10.99
7th Generation Diapers: $12.69
Tom's Toothpaste: $4.49
On Sale in Supplements:
Rainbow Light
Complete Nutritional System Multi + (food based)  90's: $16.99 / 180's: $29.99
Men"s One Multi 30's: $7.99 / 90's: $18.49
Twinlab NAC 600mg 60's:$15.29
New Chapter Organics Every Man Whole Food Complex 90's: $35.99
NEW!  American Health Ester-C 250mg 125wafers: $10.99
We have other specials going on too, so stop by and see us in our new department.
In The Grocery Aisle
Rudi's Organic Sandwich Breads:
You can't make an organic sandwich without the bread. We have four varieties of Rudi's Organic bread on Sale right now at Wheatsville. We have 100% Whole Wheat, Honey Whole Wheat, Colorado Cracked Wheat and Multigrain Oat  for only $3.29 each. It's a good time to stock up and throw some in your freezer. Multigrain Oat has been a constant in my house for a long time.
Rush Hour Recipes
With the start of a new month comes a new Rush Hour Recipe! Yay!  This month features Vietnamese Noodle Salad.
Every month we'll feature a new entree recipe (featuring a mix of vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan options) at the Deli Counter and on our website. We will keep an archive of recipe cards at the member center as well, so that you can pick one up and use it for your dinner shopping. You can even use these recipes to build your own recipe book. These recipes come from various co-ops all over the States, which is pretty cool. Plus they have been kitchen tested so you trust them to turn out right. Increase your kitchen repertoire with these quick, easy, fresh, entree recipes.  Follow this link to see the Rush Hour Recipes:
I hope that you have a really great week!
Thank you for your continued support and patronage!
Dan Gillotte
Wheatsville GM and e-mail guy

As promised, here are more of the comments from last week (and, we'll have more stuff about the surcharge change in the next issue of the Wheatsville Breeze.):

Great news Dan.
I think doing away with the surcharge is a great idea and very inclusive.

Praise be! All very exciting changes that I have long hoped for - keep
up the good work, Dan.

I am writing to let you know that I support your decision to do away with the surcharge.  In this economic climate, we need to do all we can to encourage people to shop at Wheatsville and join our Co-op.  I have belonged to Wheatsville for a million years (It was still on Lamar when I joined.) and I have always enjoyed shopping there.  When I moved away for a long time, I maintained my membership because I knew I would always move back to Austin.  We did in 2005 and I have been coming back to Wheatsville time after time.  Thanks for all you do for Wheatsville.

 I'm fine with the no more surcharge thing. I've been a gold member since 1982, so the days of paying a surcharge are pretty long past for me.

Good going, Dan.
Getting people interested though 'postivies' (members get the goodies) rather than punitive (you pay more up front, non-member!) measures.

This is Rowan over at Central City in Houston, I think you are making  a real wise choice, very much riding the wave of the nurture economy model and making the most of a friends do business with friends relationship business model.
Good Thinking!

Kudos!!  I think it's just good karma to eliminate the surcharge.  Thanks again for all you do!

Thanks for killing the surcharge I never could get people over it to understand it.
Now they will come and shop with us like us , even though we paved the road.
Thanks Dan this is the most important step to unity in the community I have ever witnessed at the ville.
Kudos Bro!

Good move Dan! I am all for doing away with the surcharge.

I wanted to let you know that I have no problems at all with eliminating the surcharge.  There is more to being a member of the co-op beside some cost savings, like, where else can you help decide what products your grocery store is going to carry on its shelves?  The more customers we have the better in my opinion, whether they are members or not.

I think removing the surcharge was a good idea! You're exactly right. People should have positive incentives for joining. Good move!

I just wanted to let you know that i love it. i am glad you are no longer charging that. i am a member and a proud member. i absolutely love wheatsville. i love the idea of shopping at a coop. you carry everything (mostly) that i eat or need, plus some. i come here very often to pick up a little lunch since i work at UT. i have been shopping at wheatsville for 20+ years.
but i always felt bad about the 'are you a member' question for folks that weren't many didn't understand what it meant, maybe they just ran in to pick up some lunch or something. then it makes them feel odd. or 'not part of something' and that kind of feeling can make people not want to come back.
i think its fantastic. keep giving benefits for becoming a member - we will ever be grateful! i love wheatsville and am very excited about the expansion and all the new stuff going on. the cash registers pretty much rock too.
Megan and Greg

What a great move!
You and the WV leadership in general are so forward thinking and positive it makes people proud to be member/owners.

I think it's a great idea to let go of the surcharge.  We owner/members still have great benefits, and it does remove an obstacle for others shopping at Wheatsville.

You make a good argument for getting rid of the surcharge. I hadn't thought about it in quite a while; I guess it was started to raise money and as an incentive to join. It's great we can let that drop now!

And now for some of the comments from people that don't like the change:

I think that you missed the point entirely and that membership will drop off.
I agree with you that labeling it as a "surcharge" feels exclusionary.
But you could have continued with the exact same system, just tweaked differently: have the receipt for non-members show the "regular" price (possibly with the amount at the bottom that they could have saved if they were members), and have the members receipt show the "regular" price, but at the end subtract the discount that we receive for being member. The Weaver Street Co-op in NC does this, and it served as a very positive reinforcement to me that both the coop and I benefit from my shopping there.
Now I am faced with the idea that I am paying a membership fee just for 4 days of discounts a year, and frankly I don't know if it is worth it for that.
Thanks for listening, Sonja

I certainly want to improve the experience at Wheatsville for non-members, and I think that the surcharge has always been a headache for those who are not members. however, I think that the elimination of the system of benefits for the investor-members is unfair. I suggest that the members be given a 5% or so 'credit on future purchases or a cumulative rebate based on purchases instead of only the 10% on one day opportunity. If Credit card companies can offer a rebate on purchases to card-hoders, and if it was reasonable and progressive to offer a 7% discount for membership-investment in the 0past at Wheatsville, then it would seem reasonable to offer the same rebate or one slightly modified to account for times of stress, to continuing members. One day a month and a few product-specific sales discounts does not seem to be enough incentive for membership and participation in the Co-op. Thanks for listening.

I don't remember the membership voting to get rid of the 7% surcharge sounds. This seems like a big step away from being a co-op. Why stop there? Why not give back our membership fees, get rid of the sale specials, stop the rebate program, and just let investor share-holders vote in elections? And while we're at it, let's change the name to Wheatsville Grocery. Sincerely, Randy