Willy Street Cooperative

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Willy Street Grocery Cooperative (Willy Street Co-op)
Consumers' Cooperative
Industry Retailing
Founded 1974 (1974)
Headquarters Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Products Organic food
Members 28,000
Website willystreet.coop

The Willy Street Cooperative (locally known as the Willy Street Co-op) is a food cooperative located in Madison, Wisconsin that specializes in natural, organic and locally produced foods. The co-op offers products from over 180 local farmers and vendors. The cooperative is owned by over 31,000 equity-owning members.[1]

The co-op is an economically and environmentally sustainable, cooperatively owned grocery business that serves the needs of its owners and employees. WSGC supports local and organic suppliers throughout south-central Wisconsin.[2] It operates according to seven basic principles, sometimes known as the Rochdale Principles.[3] The cooperative has assisted struggling cooperatives such as the Yahara River Grocery Cooperative in Stoughton.[4]


The Williamson Street Grocery Co-op opened in 1974 at 1101 Williamson Street, sharing the space with the workers cooperative Nature's Bakery.[5] The co-op relocated to 1014 Williamson Street in October 1974. They outgrew the space and relocated again in October 1977 to 1202 Williamson Street. A board of directors was elected from the membership in 1979. Originally managed as a collective, the staff was restructured in 1982 and a general manager was hired.[6]

Willy Street Co-op grew over the next two decades; then, in 1998, the co-op purchased and remodeled the Eagles Club at 1221 Williamson Street.[6] After years of planning and selecting two sites that didn't work out, the cooperative opened a second store, dubbed "Willy West," in Middleton in November 2010.[7][8] The planned closure of Williamson Street for construction in 2011 has led the cooperative to plan a temporary driveway entrance on Jenifer Street for its customers.[9][10]

Scenes from the comedy series Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager were filmed on location at the Willy Street Co-op, which serves as "Empire Market," the primary location for the series.[11][12][13]


  1. ^ Willy Street Co-op National Cooperative Grocers Association.
  2. ^ Willy Street Co-op. Dane Buy Local.
  3. ^ ICA Co-operative Principles, 1937, 1966, and 1995 revisions.
  4. ^ "New Chapter for the Yahara River Grocery Cooperative". WMTV. March 20, 2009. 
  5. ^ Ivey, Mike. Biz Beat: Willy St. Co-op turns 35. The Cap Times. 14 Oct. 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Willy Street Co-op History". Willy Street Co-op. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Burns, Jane (November 13, 2010). "Willy Street Co-op's long-awaited second store is ready to debut". Wisconsin State Journal. 
  8. ^ Byrne, Michael. "What’s in Store for You". Willy Street Co-op. 
  9. ^ Wong, Tim (October 25, 2010). "Willy Street Co-op needs to rethink driveway plan for Jenifer Street". Isthmus. 
  10. ^ Lynch, Jerry (September 10, 2010). "Respect needs of Willy Street Co-op". Wisconsin State Journal. 
  11. ^ Foley, Ryan J. (February 25, 2007). "Chad Vader's popularity out of this world on Web". The Seattle Times. 
  12. ^ Chad Vader Not so long ago, in a local grocery co-op. Willy Street Co-op.
  13. ^ Knutsen, Kristian (February 1, 2009). "MadVideos -- Chad Vader Season 2 Episode 1 production notes". Isthmus. 

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Coordinates: 43°5′1.68″N 89°21′47.79″W / 43.0838000°N 89.3632750°W / 43.0838000; -89.3632750