Environmentally minded Vancouverites and regulars at the Soap Dispensary (3718 Main Street) will be happy to hear that the eco-conscious shop is expanding.
Offering an assortment of refills on all-natural soaps, household cleaners, and other Earth-friendly products in an effort to divert single-use plastics from landfills, the startup was the first bulk store of its kind in Vancouver when it opened in 2011. It’s been doing gangbusters since.
Now, co-owner Linh Truong confirms to the Straight that the Soap Dispensary has plans to expand its operations next door at 3716 Main Street. Recently vacated by Quality Printing Inc., the site will bring the Soap Dispensary’s total retail (not carbon) footprint to 2,100 square feet.
“It’s actually kind of a great time for us, because we’re out of space,” Truong says by phone.
While Truong and co-owner Stewart Lampe await the approval of building permits, the duo will convert the newly acquired 900-square-foot space into a holiday pop-up shop.
The temporary boutique, which is meant to relieve traffic at the Soap Dispensary’s current site, will feature a range of gift-able eco-minded and zero-waste lifestyle products—some currently available at the Soap Dispensary and others brand new.
Among the items on offer will be sustainably produced towels from North Vancouver’s Le fil rouge Textiles; stainless-steel wok tools; incense and sage smudges by Incausa; silicon baby bottle attachments for Mason jars; and beautifully crafted French presses from the Florida-based Yield Design.
Vegan and cruelty-free makeup items by Victoria’s Elate Cosmetics will also be available, plus over 100 patterns of Swedish dishcloths.
“With our refill customers and the influx of Christmas shoppers, it’s getting kind of unmanageable in our space,” Truong shares. “So we’re sort of spreading over and letting the Christmas shoppers have their own space.”
Come the New Year, the pop-up shop will be transformed into what Truong is dubbing the Soap Dispensary’s Kitchen Staples. This new area will focus on refillable edibles and ecofriendly kitchen items. An interior doorway will join the two sides.
Truong hopes to offer a variety of fresh cheeses, pasta, sauces, and spreads, as well as frozen foods such as perogies, which will be stored in newly installed freezer and deli cooler sections. These foods will be available alongside the Soap Dispensary’s current inventory of cooking oils, honey, and maple syrup in bulk.
Like the Soap Dispensary, the Soap Dispensary’s Kitchen Staples will include a counter area where customers may drop off and pick up containers for refills. Culinary and kitchen tool displays will also be relocated here.
By offering refills on “hard-to-find” edibles, Truong aims to complement existing grocers on Main Street, many of which carry dry grains, nuts, spices, and other foods in bulk.
“There are a million things we could be refilling that we currently don’t have access to,” she says.
The Soap Dispensary’s holiday pop-up shop is expected to open from this Thursday (December 8) to December 24 and will operate on the shop’s regular hours. The completed expansion is planned for early 2017.