Toronto-based retailer bare market, a packaging-free venture that originated as an online store and pop-up shop in 2017, opened its first brick-and-mortar location on 1480 Danforth Ave. The local community recently welcomed the addition of the business with a grand opening on February 1.

According to founder and owner Dayna Stein, the east end site was selected after they recognized a high demand and high interest in low-waste shopping from the community in the last two years that they have been in business.
“The package-free refillable shopping experience was a massive gap in the east end,” said Stein. “There was not really an all-in-one stop shop you could go to refill at.”

The market carries locally produced and sustainable products in home care, body care, do-it-yourself ingredients, as well as a variety of foods in bulk. Customers can either bring their own containers from home or purchase reusable containers to do their shopping.

For customers like Devon Baine, this environmentally-friendly method is an enhancement to her shopping experience.

“I just try to use as little plastic as possible in general but especially in my shopping,” said Baine. “I like that you can bring your own bottles and fill them up here.”

Bare market is far from being the only local business partaking in low-waste shopping experiences, but a particular selling point of the shop is its emphasis on high-quality products for relatively low prices.

“It’s very affordable, one of the most affordable in this city to find,” said shopper Michael Cox. “The quality and quantity that they have is really good.”

The physical location has also attracted first-time visitors who have been following bare market since its time as a pop-up shop.

“I’ve been shopping at bulk food stores for decades,” said Alexandra MacQueen. “This opened up in my neighbourhood. I’ve been following them on Instagram for probably a year and I was very curious to see what the store looks like.”

MacQueen added that her choice to shop at bare market reflects her personal ambitions to be a more environmentally-conscious shopper.

“My kids have forbidden me from bringing any kind of excess plastic into the house,” said MacQueen. “I have two teenagers and they are very aware of the environmental impact of excess plastic, single-use plastic. But even if I didn’t have my kids prodding me, I want to minimize the amount of single-use plastics I’m using. If you looked at my pantry at home, it’s filled with refillable jars for flowers and granola and spices and so this is how I’ve been shopping since I was a teenager.”

Fellow community members also express their gratitude towards bare market for providing a sense of fulfilment in their efforts to be environmentally-friendly.

“With the state of the world, it’s hard to make a difference in things these days,” said Baine. “But this is one area where I feel like I can make a small difference.”

“It started with just going to co-ops and Bulk Barn,” added Cox. “The kind of culture Dayna has started with bare market has been really lovely.”

Since its opening, the storefront has seen a reliable flow of customers. But despite economic promise, Stein insists bare market’s environmental and societal goals are far more valued than its prospects as a business.

“Bare market is really here as a space where we can create dialogue and create action around larger environmental and social issues that are happening around us and we use waste as a lever to bring people into that conversation,” said Stein.

“Waste is sexy but it’s also tangible and people can see the impact of reducing waste fairly easily whereas other environmental and social issues aren’t so visible.”