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Shopper’s Diary: Kitchen Staples, A Design-Forward Zero-Waste Store in Vancouver

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Shopper’s Diary: Kitchen Staples, A Design-Forward Zero-Waste Store in Vancouver

January 3, 2019

The next big thing in retail (we hope)? Zero-waste stores equipped with refill stations to minimize single-use plastic containers. We’ve already written about Lauren Singer’s Package Free Shop in Brooklyn. And now we have another buy-in-bulk store to add to our growing list: The Soap Dispensary, the first of its kind in Vancouver, Canada.

Husband and wife Linh Truoung and Stewart Lampe opened the Soap Dispensary in 2011, stocking eco-friendly products like natural toothbrushes (with bamboo or wooden handles), reusable feminine hygiene products, and liquid soaps and cleaners for refill. The concept is simple: Bring your own containers, and their staff will refill them with as much or as little as you need. (See Expert Advice: 8 Eco-Friendly Beauty Resolutions to Make This Year (Plus a 2-Ingredient DIY Salve) for Linh’s tips on a more sustainable beauty routine.)

Recently, architects Susan and David Scott, of Scott & Scott Architects, brought news of the couple’s latest venture: In November, they expanded into the adjacent storefront to open Kitchen Staples, which sells dry, fresh, and frozen foods in bulk. (Think: nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, cooking oils, dried fruit, grains, and more.)

The Scotts, who live and work around the corner from the Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples, designed the new light-filled store. They’ve been going to the shop for years: “It’s quite busy on the weekends as a destination,” says David. “We’ll stop in during the day when we are around in the neighborhood; our daughters love the pierogies. We refill olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup and other regularly used items from the shop,” he says.

Naturally, they designed the new space with sustainability in mind. Let’s take a tour of Kitchen Staples, a slim gem of a store.

Photography courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects unless otherwise noted.

Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver  &#8\2\20;There are two equal halves—one for The Soap Dispensary and one for Kitchen Staples—with a walk through at the front for the public and at the rear for the staff,&#8\2\2\1; says David. Pictured is the interior view of Kitchen Staples, facing toward the street.
Above: “There are two equal halves—one for The Soap Dispensary and one for Kitchen Staples—with a walk-through at the front for the public and at the rear for the staff,” says David. Pictured is the interior view of Kitchen Staples, facing toward the street.
Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver A single dispensing bar bisects the narrow space. The Scotts designed a 7 meter long ash dowel pendant light, suspended above the bar with washing line, to coordinate with the oiled ash taps that dispense oils, syrups, and vinegars.
Above: A single dispensing bar bisects the narrow space. The Scotts designed a 7-meter-long ash dowel pendant light, suspended above the bar with washing line, to coordinate with the oiled ash taps that dispense oils, syrups, and vinegars.
Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver A curated selection of non plastic kitchen essentials is displayed on regionally sourced Douglas fir plywood shelving.
Above: A curated selection of non-plastic kitchen essentials is displayed on regionally sourced Douglas fir plywood shelving.
Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver &#8\2\20;The service counter is topped with soapstone from a quarry in Quebec and fitted with \26 stainless steel and oiled ash taps,&#8\2\2\1; says David.
Above: “The service counter is topped with soapstone from a quarry in Quebec and fitted with 26 stainless steel and oiled ash taps,” says David.
Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver A shop assistant refills cooking oil for a customer. &#8\2\20;There is an old neighborhood shop feel to the store,&#8\2\2\1; says David. &#8\2\20;While we are used to the convenience of speed, the process of having your containers filled allows for conversations with neighbors.&#8\2\2\1; Photograph by Fahim Kassam, courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects.
Above: A shop assistant refills cooking oil for a customer. “There is an old neighborhood-shop feel to the store,” says David. “While we are used to the convenience of speed, the process of having your containers filled allows for conversations with neighbors.” Photograph by Fahim Kassam, courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects.
Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver A selection of spices at the ready. &#8\2\20;The footprint is small; however, the elimination of packaging allows for a higher density of products within the space,&#8\2\2\1; says David.
Above: A selection of spices at the ready. “The footprint is small; however, the elimination of packaging allows for a higher density of products within the space,” says David.
Shoppers Diary Kitchen Staples A DesignForward ZeroWaste Store in Vancouver Customers&#8\2\17; home brought jars waiting to be refilled. The store also offers a range of bags, bottles, and jars for purchase; there&#8\2\17;s even a &#8\2\20;free bin&#8\2\2\1; of donated containers. Photograph by Fahim Kassam, courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects.
Above: Customers’ home-brought jars waiting to be refilled. The store also offers a range of bags, bottles, and jars for purchase; there’s even a “free bin” of donated containers. Photograph by Fahim Kassam, courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects.

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