Shop Local: The Refill Pantry expands during lockdown

The Refill Pantry is now in St Albans and Sandridge. Picture: Supplied

The Refill Pantry is now in St Albans and Sandridge. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

Joining forces with a local garden centre is just one way a city food retailer has adapted to the pandemic.

The Refill Pantry is now in St Albans and Sandridge. Picture: Supplied

The Refill Pantry is now in St Albans and Sandridge. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

Zero waste champion, The Refill Pantry, has just set up a new operation at Carpenter’s Farm Shop in Sandridge.

It sells a wide range of dried goods from pasta, rice and lentils, to nuts, chocolates and sweets, all packaging free.

Customers take their own containers and fill them up with individual items in order to reduce waste.

Owner Celina Mendoza said, having been open for 18 months, her business was just becoming established when the virus struck: “It was part of people’s regular routine to collect old containers and refill them at our shop. Since March our footfall has more than halved.”


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Like many retailers, she relies on sales during the festive period to cover shortfalls in the following months.

“Christmas for us, as for all retailers, is the busiest and most successful time of the year. Although we are primarily a food shop, zero waste extends to beauty and homeware so our non-food items have always appealed to many of our customers as great gifts for friends and family.”

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Celina said that with many retail businesses closing due to reduced footfall, it’s crucial to get the message out to support independent shops, and has given her full support to the Herts Ad’s ongoing #Shop Local campaign.

“Independents are what make our local communities unique - and what make our high street so vibrant and interesting - this is make or break time for so many of us, so it would be wonderful to see the community come together and use Christmas as the opportunity to focus on local retailers for all their shopping.”

Although as a food retailer they are allowed to stay open during the lockdowns, for the first closure they decided to offer an order and collect service instead. This has now been adapted so that customers can drop off containers for refilling which will then be ready for collection the same day.

“This reduces waste whilst also reducing their contact time with us and other shoppers” added Celina.

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