Founded in October of 2018, Kate Pepler saw a gap in the bulk foods market and took a chance, hoping that her community would embrace a reduced packaging lifestyle. The Tare Shop is a bulk foods store with two locations in Halifax, NS and Dartmouth, NS. From the get-go, The Tare Shop has had one main goal, reducing waste. The sustainable vision driving The Tare Shop and surrounding communities focuses on reducing waste and showing consumers that the switch to package free isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
The innovation behind the business model was based on sustainability and sharing that view with the surrounding community. The sustainable business model adhered to the concept of reducing personal waste, with a no-waste lifestyle as the ultimate goal. Kate wanted to show her community how small changes can have a massive positive impact on the environment, and display how The Tare Shop’s practices can be adopted in different lifestyle aspects and on a global scale.
The Tare Shop does not provide new containers and bags to consumers; rather, they encourage customers to bring their own cups and bags. Once the customer has filled their container with the product, the staff uses a weighting system to subtract the weight of the empty container from the total weight, cutting out single use containers and bags. Further, The Tare Shop accepts used container donations, which are sanitized and can be resold to customers if they cannot bring in a container for themselves. Striving for sustainability, every innovation strategy is based on a combination of environmental and community benefits.
Kate Pepler noticed the significant influx of waste production from everyday products, and saw a business opportunity in the bulk foods market. From saving a paper coffee cup to a plastic bag, she yearned to show people how small changes have the potential to make a big impact on the environment. With much support from family and friends, Kate decided to make a change by opening a package-free coffee shop and bulk foods store. The idea was for customers to bring their own coffee mugs and containers into the store for refill of bulk food purchases, or to grab a beverage from the cafe. Overall, Kate was motivated to give people opportunities to choose sustainability in their shopping experience.
As seen on The Tare Shop website, “Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, only 9% of which is recycled” (The Tare Shop, n.d.). By switching to package-free, The Tare Shop hopes to reduce this number and make an impact by encouraging sustainable living. Assistant store manager, Katharine MacDonald, says, “The Tare Shop’s goal is to find ways to live package-free. We want to allow consumers the option to shop sustainably in the community.”
The Tare Shop is looking to change people’s shopping habits and perspectives for the better. They want to continue to grow and expand so they can teach more people the importance of sustainable living and continue to help local communities.
The Tare Shop has been fortunate enough to reach a wide audience, not limited to their immediate community. Word spread quickly of The Tare Shop and the unique shopping experience they provide, allowing customers near and far to reap the benefits of incorporating reduced packaging into their everyday errands. “We have a very broad demographic of people who shop here. People will come from quite a distance and often tell us they are just in town for the day from Lunenburg or Truro and wanted to stop in and refill their containers, which is very interesting.”
The Tare Shop has made a huge impact on society and was able to continue providing their services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The waste reduction business model that the store embraces is helping the world heal in so many ways. From reducing plastic pollution and packaging waste, the employees of The Tare Shop are able to spread positivity and environmental awareness each day.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for businesses, including The Tare Shop. When asked about short term goals, assistant store manager, Katherine MacDonald, replied, “we’re focusing on reincorporating the cafe side of the business and encouraging people to come and shop in person again.” The business is also trying to expand their social media presence and brand reputation, in hopes to continue to gain opportunities in other Atlantic cities.
The community response to the innovation behind The Tare Shop has been significant and promising enough to allow Kate to open a second location in Dartmouth, NS, just three years after opening the first store. Surrounding businesses have become aware of The Tare Shop’s sustainable practices, as Katharine noted, “some nearby businesses have contacted us and been like, hey we heard that you’re using this type of package free product, is it cool if we do that too?”, prompting more local businesses to strive for sustainability.
Taking their sustainable vision to e-commerce, carefully selected sustainable lifestyle items are also sold on the company’s website, keeping in mind their sustainable environmental views. The Tare Shop deals with 40-50 suppliers, in which they have encouraged those suppliers to find unique ways to provide them with products that incorporate reduced packaging. Katharine explained, “all it takes is a little creativity and they’ve switched and they don’t need packaging to work with us.” This has allowed The Tare Shop to form lasting friendships with crafters, local and cross-country.
The Tare Shop has also made it a priority to positively affect the surrounding historically working-class communities. Every quarter, both store locations donate one percent of sales to a charity or non-profit organization that is predetermined by group discussion or nominated by the community. Katharine expressed “it’s more so about making sure our store is not inaccessible to the community that we’re in”, stressing that they are there to support the community and help wherever and whenever it is needed.
The Tare Shop’s efforts have created a positive environmental impact by encouraging the use of reusable products. The store has been diligently tracking their waste reduction and within three years has been able to save approximately 168,000 plastic bags and over 16,000 paper coffee cups. In addition, the business has tracked their compost, recycling, and waste to the gram in order to continue to learn ways to decrease these figures and inspire communities to live sustainably.
The Tare Shop. (n.d.). Home. https://www.thetareshop.com/
Katharine MacDonald, Assistant Store Manager
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Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA
Business Website: https://www.thetareshop.com/
Year Founded: 2018
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
The Tare Shop, located in Nova Scotia, Canada, is a sustainable bulk foods store. The sustainable vision driving The Tare Shop and surrounding communities focuses on reducing waste and showing consumers that the switch to package free isn’t as difficult as it may seem.