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Meet Kate Pepler, Founder of The Tare Shop

Succeeding her graduation from Dalhousie University, Kate Pepler felt what many new grads feel, a longing for purpose. She was always passionate about oceans, reducing plastic pollution, fostering community, and environmental education. Determined to be the one to make a difference, she founded the first-ever package-free store in Halifax. The Tare Shop opened in the north end of Halifax during the Fall of 2018.

The Tare Shop provides a retail space where shoppers can reduce their personal waste while repurposing and reusing items they already have. It is a place where the community can purchase groceries, coffee, and beauty supplies. Their main goal is to allow the community to take action in living a sustainable life with less single-use plastic in order to make a difference in the world. 

In January 2020, The Tare Shop started the ‘1% Forward’ program. With the main objective of giving back to the local communities where they operate, every quarter they donate 1% of their sales to a group organization. Now, The Tare Shop is a Certified B Corporation and has expanded to a second location in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. 

What inspired you to start the first package-free store in Halifax? At the time, were there already package-free stores located in Nova Scotia? 

Following my graduation from university, I was pretty overwhelmed with the state of the world – I didn’t know what I could do to make a difference. I started taking steps in my own life to reduce my waste, but there was nowhere that made it easy and accessible – that’s what sparked the idea for The Tare Shop. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and then doubting myself as I didn’t have a business background. But eventually flipped that to “why not me” and got to work! The Tare Shop was the first package-free shop in Nova Scotia! 

Was there a turning point where you realized there was an opportunity to start this new business? What was your inspiration to start The Tare Shop? 

My inspiration ultimately came from wanting a different way of shopping and accessing groceries – I figured that if I was trying to live this way, there must be other folks who were also trying to reduce their waste. The status quo of grocery shopping is so wasteful at the moment – being able to buy exactly what you need, without packaging is so refreshing!

For those of us who don’t know, tell us what being package-free means? 

We sell everything from nuts and seeds, pasta, flour, spices, snacks, cleaning, and body products – all without the packaging! We encourage folks to bring in containers that they already have (filling up their old olive oil container). When you bring in your container, the staff weighs it for you, then you can fill it as much or as little as you want. At checkout, we deduct the container weight, and you just pay for the product that you are buying – that’s where the name Tare comes from! We have some customers who have been filling the same laundry detergent container since we opened in 2018!

The Tare Shop is a Certified-B Corporation, what does this mean and how does this impact the community? 

The purpose of the B Corp movement is to act as a driving force in changing the corporate face of business. We will have to reapply every three years in order to maintain our status and we aim to constantly improve our B Corp score moving forward. Becoming a B Corp has been a goal of mine since the first shop opened and we are thrilled to be recognized along with so many other incredible businesses as a Certified B Corp. This was really important for us because it holds us accountable to the highest standard of environmental, social, and workplace ethics. 

What is the largest challenge that The Tare Shop currently faces? 

As with so many other businesses at the moment, we are being impacted by the supply chain issues. When we opened our second location in Dartmouth in January 2021, we were only able to get half of the jars we needed due to the global glass shortage – we finally got the rest of our shipment in April and were able to bring in more products!

Since opening in 2018, has Halifax had any other package-free community spaces open or is The Tare Shop the only one? 

There have been other businesses that are now allowing folks to bring their own containers which is fantastic! The more places that are offering this, the better for everyone! It’s been so great to chat with other business owners about how they can reduce their waste or change their systems to offer refillable products.

Check out The Tare Shop on their website and on Instagram.

Taryn Matteazzi