Northside Planning Council - NPC
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North Star Award Recipient – Willy Street Co-op North: Management Team

Willy Street Coop was nominated by Katie Hoel and the Northside Planning Council (NPC).

NPC wrote in their nomination:

“Last September, NPC learned that Pierce’s would not be renewing its lease. We met with Anya Firszt, Willy Street Co-op’s general manager, to explore the possibility of establishing our own Northside grocery cooperative. As the impossibility of raising $1,000,000 of capital in three months became clear to us, we asked Anya if Willy Street would consider opening a store for our community.

“From internal accounts at the co-op, Anya went back to her staff and her board and was intent on making the answer yes. The entire management team stretched themselves and challenged their current model, particularly as it related to balancing organic foods and affordability. They defied all expectations and were able to build a new store in a record amount of time, minimizing the time that the Northside was left without a grocer.

“Willy Street’s leadership understands that we must work to ensure that our diverse neighborhoods are served well by this store. The Co-op has already taken important steps in this direction: by eliminating the non-owner surcharge, by widely publicizing its Access Discount and Payment Programs, by working to accept WIC, by carrying a wider assortment of conventional foods, by financially supporting the Northside Grocery Shuttle, by meeting with residents in their neighborhoods and schools, and by working with community groups to accept gift memberships. And all of this before they had even opened.

“Ever since the Co-op signed this lease, they have been nothing but generous, patient, gracious partners. They listen to all feedback. They take it to heart, they gather information, they follow-up and they work to keep their promises. They find a way to say ‘yes’ to almost every request for partnership. None of this would be possible without Anya’s vision and leadership and her management team’s extraordinary effort. The Northside has much to be grateful for to Willy North, and we believe our future together will only get brighter.”

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The mission of the Northside Planning Council is to improve the quality of life and foster equity on the Northside through community organizing and economic development.

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