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Package-free bulk store opens second location in downtown Dartmouth

Since its first location opened in October 2018, it has helped save more than 15,000 coffee cups and 75,000 plastic bags from becoming waste
Halifax The Tare Shop
The first location of The Tare Shop is located on the corner of Creighton and Cornwallis streets in Halifax (Submitted)

The Tare Shop, a package-free bulk store in Halifax, has now expanded into downtown Dartmouth.

Its latest second location — which opened Jan. 8 — sits on Portland Street near Alderney Landing, and its goal is to help more people adopt a lower-waste lifestyle.

Kate Pepler is The Tare Shop’s founder and owner. The first location she founded, which is located on the corner of Cornwallis and Creighton streets in Halifax, was Nova Scotia’s first package-free bulk store.


A post shared by The Tare Shop (@thetareshop)

It’s an idea she thought of after finishing her studies in environmental sciences and sustainability at Dalhousie University.

“I spent a lot of time learning about all the doom and gloom and all the harm that humans are causing to our environment,” Pepler told NEWS 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show. “After graduating, I was pretty overwhelmed and depressed. I didn’t really know what I could do to make a difference or what I would want my career to be in.”

She heard about the zero-waste movement — which aims to avoid contributing to landfills by reducing waste — and began reducing the amount of plastic she consumed by switching to more sustainable options and products.

“I found it really hard to shop a lower-waste lifestyle in Halifax at the time,” Pepler, who moved to Halifax in 2011, said. “So, that’s where the idea to open up a package-free store in Halifax came from.”

The first location of The Tare Shop opened in October 2018 and Pepler said it’s been incredible. Since it opened, it has helped save more than 15,000 coffee cups and 75,000 plastic bags from becoming waste.

“The response to shop this way has been outstanding,” she said. “Definitely seems like a lot of folks have been trying to live lower-waste but just couldn’t find the options — it just wasn’t easily available.”

Now, The Tare Shop offers people living on both sides of the Halifax Harbour an option to reduce how much waste they consume. It also offers worldwide shipping.

The accessibility of living a lower-waste lifestyle is one of Pepler’s missions.

To do so, she tries to make the prices at The Tare Shop as low as possible so it’s affordable. She said compared to the grocery store, some products are cheaper, some are on par and others are slightly more expensive.

However, Pepler said she spends less money living a lower-waste lifestyle than she did previously.

“I think that a lot of the cost-benefits are you can buy exactly what you need,” she said. “So, if you only need a teaspoon of coriander for a recipe you’re making once, you have to go to a grocery store and buy a full container of it.”

At The Tare Shop, people can buy as much or as little as they need — even if it’s just a teaspoon of a certain ingredient.

Pepler said The Tare Shop’s bestseller is laundry detergent from Nova Scotia company Down East. Other liquids, such as shampoos, conditioners, oils, vinegars and honey, are also popular since they’re difficult to get without packaging.

The store also offers other cleaning products from Down East, spices, grains, legumes, pasta, baking ingredients and more.


A post shared by The Tare Shop (@thetareshop)

While some people may see The Tare Shop as a replica of larger corporations like Bulk Barn, Pepler said The Tare Shop is a safe, community-minded space.

Every fiscal quarter, Pepler said one per cent of the store’s sales goes to a local organization.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Tare Shop also held various workshops and community events such as sessions on reducing waste, clothing swaps and zero-waste night markets.

And while people have become more conscious of cleanliness due to COVID-19, using reusable packaging doesn’t increase the chance of virus transmission.

In 2020, a letter on reusable items and packaging — signed by more than 100 scientists around the world — was published saying that it’s safe to use these items and packaging so long as they’re cleaned.

Pepler said she’s been diligently cleaning and following a long list of safety protocols at The Tare Shop.

Moreover, she said many people have been grateful they’ve been able to still shop a lower-waste lifestyle.

“Right now, all of the burden of the packaging falls on the consumer which isn’t fair,” she said. “Producers need to take more responsibility of their packaging.”


Chris Stoodley

About the Author: Chris Stoodley

Chris was born and raised in Halifax. After graduating from the journalism program at King's, he started as CityNews Halifax's weekend editor.
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