It’s official, folks: Vancouver’s first dedicated zero-waste grocer Nada, formerly known as Zero Waste Market, has announced that it will open a permanent brick-and-mortar store at 675 East Broadway later this year.
The confirmation comes after a year-and-a-half-long search for commercial real estate, which, in April, led the Nada team to launch an online petition urging the City of Vancouver to lease a civic-owned space to the startup.
It appears that the eco-minded business was successful as the building in which the 2,332-square-foot site is located belongs to the municipality, allowing the two parties to work together toward Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan and Zero Waste 2040 goals. Dubbed “Kwayatsut”, the structure houses low-income residents as the result of a partnership with the Vancouver Native Housing Society, the Broadway Youth Resource Centre, and BC Housing.
The building is also LEED Gold Certified, boasts a rooftop garden with traditional native crops, and is on track to have no more than 10 percent of its energy produced from fossil fuels—all reasons why the Nada team were drawn to the space.
“It’s a new building, it has a ton of potential,” Brianne Miller, cofounder of Nada, tells the Straight by phone. “And we absolutely love the neighbourhood.”
The Nada shop will be “as close to a full-fledged grocery store as possible”, says Miller, and include sections for fresh produce and, occasionally, “ugly” fruits and vegetables; dairy such as yogurt and cheeses; bulk dry goods like granola, nuts, and seeds; and bulk liquids such as honey, olive oil, and molasses.
Frozen items will also be on hand, though Miller and her team are in the process of figuring out a way to offer packaging-free meat that meets health and food-safety regulations.
A pet department will stock cat, dog, and other feeds, while an in-house café and patio will offer coffee, snacks, and, of special note, smoothies crafted from potential food waste. “We’ll be freezing anything that’s about to go bad and using them in smoothies,” explains Miller, “so it’s about trying to close that loop of food waste within our own store.”
A household and personal-care department will have soaps, shampoos, and other products available for refills. Like at Nada’s ongoing pop-up shops, all items will be sold sans plastic and packaging. The majority of them will be locally, ethically, and sustainably sourced.
Glass jars may be purchased or rented on-site, though customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable containers. Miller would also like to eventually host DIY and eco-minded workshops in the space.
In November, Nada will launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for freezers, shelving, and other fixtures that will outfit the permanent store. Miller hopes that the grocer will open before January. “I think it will definitely be toward the New Year,” she says, “but we’re trying to push it as fast as we can.”
Founded in 2015 as Zero Waste Market, Nada has since been offering a range of plastic- and packaging-free goods around town through various pop-up shops. It rebranded in June in anticipation of its brick-and-mortar launch.