Brianne Miller is a champion of reuse and sustainability. Her career as a marine biologist observing reefs and shorelines polluted by plastic waste inspired her to open a grocery store in Vancouver that encourages shoppers to buy everything unpackaged, from pierogis to beets and artichokes to vegan waffles. Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers or purchase reusable ones at the store.
After a trial run with a pop-up shop, she and co-owner Alison Carr found a perfect location in a modern building on East Broadway that had the floor space they needed for a store named Nada. The store layout became an effort to get as close to zero waste as possible, to live up to their buying philosophy.
“People walk into our space and think it’s a beautiful new store, but in fact the vast majority of the fixtures in there are all pre-owned. A little paint and TLC goes a long way,” says Miller.
It’s a trend being studied by other retailers at a time when stores of all sizes are encouraging sustainability and aiming for net zero energy consumption.
“Buying second-hand furniture or accessories has a positive impact on the environment,” says Michelle Wasylyshen, national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada.
“Diverting used furniture from landfills eliminates the need to manufacture new products, thereby limiting resource consumption and energy use – and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse,” she says.
For businesses looking to become certified green buildings through programs like LEED, choosing to buy recycled office furniture or fixtures is a way to earn credits to help them achieve certification, he adds. she.
“One of the best things we can do for the planet is to use things that already exist and not buy new things,” Miller says. “We were looking at Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and used auctions for what we could reuse. My dad worked in retail and supply chain management for Hudson’s Bay and he suggested we check out Sears stores that were closing.
Department stores sold everything that could be removed – displays, lighting and shelving.
“I wasn’t sure they would have anything in their big box stores that would match our store design,” says Miller, “but we found many pieces that were the right size, and some could be made to look like new with just a simple coat of paint.
Leigh Collyer, director of ZAS Architects + Interiors Inc. in Vancouver, which designed the store’s interior, says that once we got to a store, “we were like kids in a candy store.”
“There were all kinds of things that we could reuse, and they sold them at very low prices. Brianne measured the fixtures and we picked the ones we could fit into our layout.
Cost reduction was a big plus: “In a commercial building, you can’t just use residential fixtures. And commercial lighting can be very expensive,” says Collyer. “Runway lights that we could reuse would have cost $50 a head. We got them for $5 each.
“Diverting used furniture from landfills eliminates the need to manufacture new products, thereby limiting resource consumption and energy use – and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions Greenhouse.
— Michelle Wasylyshen, national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada.
The LED bulbs, which are separate units, were purchased for 25 cents each. “We bought boxes of extras, so they could replace anything that burns out later, so they might never have to buy a light bulb.”
The store’s checkout counter was constructed using frame from a Sears store and wood from bed frames that had been returned to Ikea Canada through their Sellback program. “We found a great frame that fit perfectly for under $100; covering it with wood and refinishing it raised the cost to about $500. But if you were buying new cabinetry and millwork, the unit could have cost around $10,000,” she adds.
They were also able to reuse materials in Nada’s new design, from the place’s previous life. The 2,500 square foot space was originally divided by a wall, with half of the area being used as a cafe.
“Normally when removing a wall, the framing and insulation would be demolished and sent to landfill. However, it could be dismantled and the steel framing studs supplied enough material to build other interior walls and the insulation was reused for soundproofing. That, in itself, was a big money saver,” says Collyer.
Refurbishment of used fixtures was a lot of work, Miller says, but “we had friends and volunteers who helped us out.” Shelves, tables and racks once used to display department store clothing were topped with bins to hold produce. “We could refinish a lot of rooms that had wooden tops. We had to add new wood to some units because they were in poor condition, but many parts were simple to restore, and all the metal storage shelves in the back house looked like new when they were put in place. were repainted.
In total, commercial business owners saved at least $40,000 on fixtures alone.
“Overall, I estimate that if we had to buy everything new, it would have cost us $200,000 more,” says Miller. “So this is a win for us and for the planet.”
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