If you are in the percentage of Madison students that could be considered "granola," "organic," or "earthy," you probably love to throw around the illusive name "Willy Street Co-Op." There is also a high probability you frolic through the store in Birkenstocks with a recyclable bag hanging loosely from your North Face backpack.
For apartment dwellers on campus, grocery options are scarce. Many would be shocked to learn there are other places to get your groceries other than the infamous scene that is Fresh Market. Don't start panicking yet: there is another way. Here's the low-down on another option for your grocery needs.
What the f**k is a Co-Op?
The name itself: Willy Street Co-Op, does not scream grocery store," but you don't want to be the incompetent person who has to ask what exactly this elusive place is.
On a random Saturday, I ventured over to Willy Street (a residential area on the other side of the Capitol). There, in the distance, I spotted the mysterious place I had heard about, looming like the City Oz at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.
As I wandered down the aisles, I sensed a Whole Foods ambience, mixed with an authentic Madison flair. According to the website, the store is "an economically and environmentally sustainable, cooperatively owned grocery business."
Down to the (apple) core, Willy Street Co-Op goes green. They use recyclable packaging for all deli items, energy-efficient lighting, and their aisle signs are even made from recycled wood. Now you can let your moral conscience rest while you shop.
Organic and Local
Especially for students who enjoy cooking, the Co-Op is a great place to find certain rare fresh vegetables and ingredients that you may be unable to find elsewhere.College-aged men who can cook: this is your shot to impress that girl you sit next to in class who you always wanted to ask out. Just whisper seductively in her ear in class: "natural, organic, ingredients." Cook her dinner (or you can cook me dinner, I wouldn't be opposed).
The store is a co-op, which means it is cooperatively owned by the investors. By paying a fair share, you are subsequently a co-owner of the store. You receive discounts on the products, gain access to exclusive orders, and meet other co-owners at monthly meetings.
If you have the time and some form of transportation: unicycle, bike, rollerblades, or something of that nature, check out the Willy Street Co-Op and embrace your inner granola side.