Willy Street Cooperative

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Willy Street Grocery Cooperative (Willy Street Co-op)
Type 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