Bare Market is Toronto’s first one-stop shop for package-free goods, and this in itself is where the innovation lies. It is a retail goods store that offers body and home care products, lifestyle products and has recently began to offer package-free groceries as well. The business model, is that consumers bring in their own containers, weigh them first and begin their shopping trip. Once they are done, they weigh the filled-up container and the weight of the container is deducted from the total weight, this way customers only pay for the amount of product. The thought behind being able to bring your own containers is that consumers only purchase the amount that they require rather than being subject to amounts that has been defined in the traditional methods of purchasing the same goods. Furthermore, if a customer is not able to bring in their own container, they also have the option of borrowing one from the company. They can use the container and bring it back the next time they come into shop at the store.
York University- Schulich School of Business
In order to create a movement towards these sustainable practices, it is very important for Dayna that the best possible products are being put forward. Hence, it all comes down to the supply chain and approval process of each product. The organization has hired an external cosmetic chemist to review and approve all the body care and home care products. Dayna mentions that “she [the chemist] tells us the environmental, social and economic impacts of every ingredients and then we decide whether or not to move forward with that product. We decide if we can work with that manufacturer to drop one ingredients for another if we know there is an environmental risk or a labour issue with a certain ingredients.” Moreover, for the new food offerings, Bare Market works directly with farmers to ensure a sustainable process throughout the entire supply chain. With this, Bare Market is able to offer customers products where they do not have to do the research as the Bare Market team has already done if for them.
For the founder, another big aspect of Bare Market is to create conversation about environmental and social issues that are happening around the world rather than limiting it to plastic pollution. The topic of food brings about many environmental and social impacts, such as, fair treatment of farm workers, food security, agricultural operations and much more. Bare Market allows for consumers to come in and ask questions about these deeper issues to ultimately create a community of people who are ready to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle. In order to enhance this aspect, the organization also keeps up a blog where they allow writers to make blog posts on topics relating to their mission. The blog allows for the organization to “connect with a community of writers and give them a platform to share their work and educate a wider audience” as specified by Dayna.
Bare Market’s journey began with the use of pop ups around the Greater Toronto Area, as way to see if a package-free store was something that Toronto was ready for. As an organization prepared to nudge the change, the pop-up stores provided the market research required to understand the consumer base. It was critical in learning about the most receptive locations, which products they should carry, testing price points for different products, and bring in their first customers. Now, with a permanent location open, Bare Market is able to provide a dependable location to anyone who is ready to make these small behavioural changes in their lifestyle. As a fairly young company, Bare Market will be spending a lot of time on the new brick and mortar location, but that is not the end goal for them. Dayna explains that “the future for Bare Market is not permanent retail locations, but actually to create an online distribution model where customers can drop off containers and have them clean, sanitized, refilled and delivered back to them.” This innovation overall relates to numerous UN Sustainable Development Goals, from good health and well-being to climate action.
Bare Market's all new brick and mortar location downtown Toronto.
While completing her undergraduate degree in Vancouver, Dayna had come across a soap dispensary where customers were able to refill their body and health care products and purchase lifestyle items that reduce waste. Even though the store was quite far from where she was situated, she kept going back as it was helping her to create the environmental impact that she had been working towards. The store was completely aligned with her goals, and it became her dream to open up a similar store in Toronto when she would move back.
Dayna went on to do her Master’s of Science in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability, where her studies were focused on how to lead companies and individuals towards this vision of sustainability in a strategic manner. Her thesis was on the topic of food waste mitigation, and she used Vancouver as a case study. During this process she interviewed with Nada, which is a package-free grocery store in Vancouver. This space really impacted her as she felt that it completely filled the gap in the food retail industry. Upon moving back from Sweden, Dayna pursued a job in consulting, where she worked for a company that focused on sustainable food systems and social enterprise development and was able to learn a lot from this experience. She was able to learn a lot about the way in which companies can measure their impact and see if they are actually moving towards significant change.
After a year of working in sustainability consulting, Dayna decided to start her Bare Market adventure. She is a big believer in the intersectionality of issues and knows that complex problems require system level solutions. For Dayna, her business is an expression of her greater passion to help others immediately and tangibly reduce waste, and take part in the bigger movement and provide a one-stop shop for people to do the same in a convenient and educational way.
As an organization working towards a greater realm of social impact, it is very important to Bare Market to be able to measure their real impact through their business model. As a small business, being able to measure impact is somewhat more difficult due to lack of resources available to them, however currently the organization measures their impact using a simple equation based on sales. They count the number of single use disposable containers that have been diverted from landfills based on how many times products were sold using refillable containers. Within the last year only through the pop-up shops, Bare Market was able to divert upwards of 4000 single use disposable containers from landfills. Furthermore, the measure of social impact is done through the number of volunteers that offer their time to the organization for their operations. It shows the organization the community who is interested in this industry and willing to grow within the particular workforce.
Dayna goes on to explain that as the organization grows and has more resources available to them, Bare Market will definitely look into hiring an experienced professional to measure impact on a whole house of different indicators that would stem from a framework she used in her Master’s degree. It would follow the Natural Step Framework for strategic sustainable development. She explains that there are “eight sustainability principles for environmental impact and five for social impact. Bare Market would work towards creating different indicators to measure impact within each of these categories as well as the overall impact.” The organization is currently applying for funding to be able to develop this framework to understand their impact better.
Moreover, another method that Bare Market will look into is developing a more complex equation, where the weight of single use items comes into play. Basically, they will be taking the average weight of different products, for example a bottle of laundry detergent versus a shampoo bottle, and average out the weight. The, they will multiply that by the number of times that a consumer purchases that specific product. This equation takes a deeper dive into each single use items that would otherwise be going to a landfill and measuring the impact through weight rather than sales.
As Toronto’s first package-free shopping destination, creating this new progressive space has opened up a completely new outlet for environmental and social sustainability for the everyday consumer. Since the launch of the organization, Bare Market has been featured in CBC, Global News, BlogTO, Narcity, Toronto.com and many other media outlets such as numerous podcasts and interviews. Apart from this, they have an exceptional social media following with 14,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook (combined). All of this without spending anything on traditional marketing mediums. For Bare Market the power of word-of-mouth marketing is especially very important. They believe that for a social enterprise, hearing about the company through others is much more effective rather than a television commercial for example, especially when it comes to more environmentally conscious consumers.
Originally, buying body care and home care products was a very new concept to suppliers and it proved rather difficult for Bare Market to find suppliers willing to make those deals. As a leader in package-free goods, the greatest challenge was being able to communicate the business case for the suppliers explaining why it is strategic for them to sell their products in bulk, all the while looking for bulk discounts. It was about creating a balance between purchasing in bulk in order to make their products financially available to consumers while also ensuring a fair price for the suppliers for their time and labour in creating those products. Finding suppliers that would sell body care products was exceptionally difficult due to regulations in Canada around these products as well as suppliers not having the resources to sell in bulk. For this reason, building relationships with their suppliers is of the utmost importance to Bare Market. Upon finding suppliers who are ready to open up those new product offerings, Bare Market works closely alongside them and nurture the relationship. Now, the organization receives emails from previous suppliers that had contacted, to let them know that they have started to offer those same products in bulk. For Bare Market, this is a huge impact as it diminishes those initial challenges that they faced. As the leader in this industry, they are able to open up more doors for themselves and organizations that follow in their footsteps, ultimately making their vision more accessible.
Other ways to understand their supply chain, is to take a look at the way they collaborate with suppliers specifically for their food products. When it comes to farmers, the Bare Market team goes the extra mile to ensure their products are brought from environmentally and socially sustainable farms. The team visits these farms and it never scared to ask those tough questions. A big example being the conversation around migrant workers, as that is proven to be a large social issue in Ontario. Through these interactions, a foundation of trust is born and is kept throughout the business dealings. Over the past couple of years, by incentivizing waste reduction at the consumer level, Bare Market was able to engage and inspire change along the entire supply chain.
As the leader in a brand-new industry, Bare Market has stepped forward to not only educate consumers but also create a space that helps to actually make a tangible change. The actual environmental benefit is the fact that anytime a consumer interacts with the organization they are diverting the plastic count. For Dayna the Bare Blog is a “capacity building space, which proves to be very pivotal in educating customers.” Even as a learning organization Bare Market primarily is nudging behaviour change and therefore that means helping people learn new things with an understanding of the fact that a low waste lifestyle can be very difficult. Diverting waste to better uses is beneficial and profitable for everyone, and Bare Market educates and creates the convenience needed to move towards those practices.
Moreover, with the introduction of the e-commerce distribution model, Bare Market will remain cognizant of the environmental impact of delivery services. Therefore, instead of doing door-to-door drop offs, which is the most carbon inefficient method of delivery, they will be searching for drop off points and collaborating with local businesses for customers to pick up their orders and drop off their old containers. Creating the environmental benefit is embedded in each operation that is introduced by Bare Market, as they are focused on the greater social and environmental impact.
For Bare Market, sustainability means working to increase ones positive impact on the environment and society. The definition is based in science, and by holding themselves to these principles they continue to work towards creating a shift in their community. For them, impact is occurring through the small behavioural changes in their consumers day-to-day life. In no way do they expect for consumers and their own business to be zero-waste, however it is their goal and constant effort to create large impact by reducing waste wherever possible. Just within the past two years, they have attracted thousands of consumers to their store, and continue to be the one-stop shop for people looking for package-free items.
Dayna Stein, Founder, CEO
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Toronto, Ontario, CA
Business Website: https://baremarket.ca
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Bare Market’s mission is to “make sustainable and ethical living easy and accessible for everyone, everywhere.” The innovation is one that is paving a pathway for everyday consumers to move towards a less disposable life style by ditching single use packaging while purchasing body and home care products plus groceries. With its home delivery option, pop-up stores and the new store in Toronto, Bare Market makes sustainable and ethical living easier and more accessible for everyone.