Bare Market, Toronto’s Package-Free Shop, is Finally Open
Here's what you need to know about the incredible new space.
Back in 2012, Dayna Stein noticed a gap in the Toronto market for some of the most in-demand items as of late: package-free goods. “It was impossible to find all the things I would need in a day without the excess packaging,” she says. Fast forward eight years later and Stein has finally found a permanent home for Bare Market — her package-free shop offering everything from beauty products to household cleaners in bulk — which is now open to the public.
Prior to securing the east end locale, Stein had been operating Bare Market — which officially launched in 2018 — via pop-up shops around Toronto. The events proved to be incredibly successful, which should come as no surprise, given the increase in environmental awareness and a push towards reducing our waste in any way possible. As a result of these 65 pop-ups, Bare Market was able to help reroute more than 7,300 containers from ending up in landfills.
While this may seem like a minuscule number compared to the reported 120 billion units of packaging the cosmetics industry churns out per year, it’s a step in the right direction. In fact, the number of beauty brands opting for more sustainable packaging options (read: recyclable; refillable) appears to be on the rise.
Setting foot into Bare Market’s new 2,800 sq. ft. home is like walking into an airy, Goop-inspired version of Bulk Barn. The space is outfitted with sleek display tables and wood shelving stocked with body care products, household cleaners and dry foods (everything from tri-colour quinoa to potato chips), all in bulk. There’s kombucha and an assortment of vinegars on tap, as well as dairy-free ice cream and vegan cheese available. New to the permanent location’s offerings is organic produce, all of which is neatly stacked on shelves and organized in bins, just begging to be ’grammed.
However, unlike anything and everything Goop, Bare Market prides itself on being completely accessible. “We use waste as a lever to start a dialogue around larger and more complex environmental and social issues, while still keeping the experience fun and accessible to all people,” explains Stein. That means encouraging shoppers to bring in any container they have on hand, as long as it’s clean, dry and not chipped. Meaning, yes, there’s absolutely no shame in bringing that old yogurt container you dug out of your stash or an old Ziplock freezer bag. The shop also stocks an assortment of branded reusable bags and containers, should you wish to purchase your own or borrow one for a small deposit.
In addition, Bare Market boasts a cafe, which Stein explains is meant to help upcycle any surplus produce the shop ends up with (i.e. bruised apples become apple sauce). In keeping with the no-waste ethos, the cafe does not offer disposable cups, which means you either bring your own cup, or you can borrow a travel mug for a $5 deposit, part of the Reego reusable cup program offered in select Toronto cafes. There’s also the option of taking a moment to sit down with your Americano in the space’s charming seating area. The cafe tables were purchased second-hand, along with the store’s display fixtures and bulk bin scoops. Speaking of the shop’s configuration, a large and open space was a must for Stein when searching for a permanent location. She plans on using the shop to host workshops, events and panels in order to further the discussion around sustainability and zero-waste. “Our business is truly about community building and taking collective action.”