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Zero waste Tare Shop to expand to Dartmouth this fall

Some stores stopped allowing reusable packaging during the pandemic, but Tare’s green mission continues.

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When Kate Pepler opened the Tare Shop in October 2018, it was the first independent zero waste store in Halifax. Inside the Cornwallis Street shop, walls are lined with clear containers of oats, dried mango, basmati rice and cleaning supplies.

Since those early days, Pepler has always dreamed of expanding, as many small business owners do. In fall 2020 that dream will become reality as the Tare Shop opens a second location at 21 Portland Street, Dartmouth.

“I kind of paused throughout quarantine but then this place came up and the timing was right, and it’s in a perfect location right on Portland Street,” Pepler tells The Coast.

When it opens, the new store will be a mirror image of the current Tare Shop, with pantry items, household goods and even a cafe (the Halifax location’s cafe will re-open by then as well, pandemic willing). The new location will be bigger than the current 800 square foot shop, allowing for some expansion and tailoring to the Dartmouth side of the city.

“We’ll probably just start with the same inventory and then grow from there,” says Pepler, citing a customer-driven model that's worked in Halifax. “How we’ve been adding products in this location is what folks have been asking for.”

Things will be busy for Pepler, who runs the shop by herself but gives credit to her staff. “It’s definitely going to be busier for me. It is my baby. So, I’m having another baby,” she laughs. “But I have a really solid team here who are all really excited for this growth and just really looking forward to it.”

Pepler says plenty of her customers already come from Dartmouth, and the location will also be closer for regular customers who drive in from the Eastern Shore or beyond. “It feels good that people are excited for this and ready for this.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Tare Shop closed for just two weeks to figure out how to allow shoppers to physically distance and employees to sanitize. That was the only interruption to its zero waste mission.

“We’ve kind of increased our cleaning protocols and like we sanitize things in between every use, like surfaces, and then sanitize all high-touch areas once an hour,” says Pepler. “And with the containers, we are being very strict about the containers people bring in, making sure that they’re clean and empty “

Stores like Bulk Barn that used to offer “bring your own container” have currently stopped that program, and grocery stores even stopped allowing reusable bags at the height of the pandemic.

“There was an article that came out, over 100 scientists and health professionals said that using reusables is safe as long as they’re being cleaned,” Pepler says. “But a lot of businesses are still only using plastic bags, are not allowing you to bring reusables and stuff like that.”

The Tare Shop currently allows for five customers at a time, and unlike before the pandemic, containers must be completely empty of product. But you can still stock up on most pantry items and even a few frozen goods and cleaning supplies, without using any plastic in the process.

“I think a lot of people are becoming more and more frustrated, so really excited to be able to offer even more folks the opportunity to shop package-free and shop sustainably throughout this,” says Pepler.

In Dartmouth’s growing downtown, the shop will sit directly across from The Canteen, in the space that was originally supposed to be occupied by the Town’s End Tavern.

“It’s still under construction, so we take ownership soon once a bit more of their work is complete, and then we can get started on all of our stuff,” says Pepler.

But besides its reputation as a vibrant young downtown, Portland Street is also smack dab in the middle of a food desert, with the closest grocery store being the No Frills on Wyse Road. “In the downtown core there is no place to find groceries really. I know Café Goodluck has started to do a little pantry style, but just like this area”—around Tare Shop’s north end Halifax location—“there’s not really a spot to buy groceries.”

With the growth of the store, Pepler is excited to help water that food desert, and to work with local vendors and suppliers to feature their products in The Tare Shop’s newest iteration. “Dartmouth really feels like the right, natural next step.”

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