Two years ago I wrote about my first visit to M. Vrac, the zero-packaging store that had just opened in West Royalty. I wasn’t entirely sold:
All that said, I’m not sure whether I’ll go back to Monsieur Vrac: I’m completely on board with the philosophy, and seeing how much packaging I didn’t use was enlightening, but I wonder if I have it in me to bus my own tables week after week. I will try. I hope others will try. In the meantime, I have a lifetime supply of vegan 70% chocolate chips.
M. Vrac closed its Charlottetown store this week; from Facebook, in part:
We regret to inform you that we have decided to close down our zero waste store. Our last day of business will be on November 1st. After that date, our Zero Waste Store will no longer be offering any kind of products and services @ 171 Buchanan Drive in Charlottetown
All our inventory and equipment has to be sold. Starting tomorrow you’ll find lots of discounts on all of our products.
The decision to close down this business was not easy, but the impact of the pandemic on our sales as well as the recent storm Fiona have forced us to review our business model.
As if to mark the occasion, I managed to cut myself this morning trying to wrangle an extension cord I purchased from Staples this morning that was encased in a seemingly-impenetrable tomb of plastic for seemingly no reason whatsoever.
I lament the passing of M. Vrac, as it was a showcase for the wide variety of how much typical packaging isn’t needed, and can be removed without harm from the logistics ecosystem. At the same time, I only shopped in the store once or twice more after that initial visit: the convenience penalty was simply too great.
Ultimately I don’t think the sustainable ecological answer is for there to be special-purpose “zero-packaging stores,” but for all stores to move toward zero-packaging.
I agree this should be the norm, not the exception. But I also wonder if M. Vrac doomed itself from the outset by setting up in mall wasteland. Targeting its downtown/student demographic and working out would've made more sense. Was it too expensive?
I'm sorry to see them go because they bought services from me two years ago and never paid their bill, and I am not the only local supplier the owner stiffed. Advertising (my service) is not the answer to every marketing problem but if you rip off the advertisers in your local market, you can have a difficult time getting the word out, paid and unpaid word-of-mouth. Loss of goodwill will kill many businesses.