Owner Catherine Conway started off with a market stall and expanded into a shop in 2006 because, as she says in a video interview with Reuters, “I used to go to the local health food shop … and every time I came home with my dry goods, I’d immediately empty them into a glass jar and throw the packaging away.”
The store has a BYO container policy, but does keep containers and reusable bags on hand if people need them. On the shelves is mostly standard bulk food fare (grains, rice, dried fruits and nuts, and produce), but there are also toiletries like toothpaste, deodorants, and an eco-friendly nail polish remover. The shop even sells milk, beer, cider, and wine in returnable glass bottles. Goods are mostly certified organic, fair trade is promoted, and the locavore model is strongly enforced (goods aren’t shipped by air).
The price-point debate of bulk versus standard grocery purchases is complicated, as most of these ingredients are from small farms and often have higher mark-ups than those of multinational food organizations. But it’s a great model and something that shoppers can really get behind. As one Unpackaged shopper interviewed by Reuters said, “If I had the courage, at the supermarket till, I would strip off all my packaging, but I’m in a hurry and I’m a coward.”
More photos of the store at progressive blog GOOD.