Original Unverpackt does not represent a new idea. Selling unpackaged groceries is a progressive concept born out of the bulk buying trends of the 1980s. Revival started with London-based Unpackaged in 2007, and in 2012 in Austin, Texas where In.Gredients was introduced.
The store not only saves on packaging but by sourcing food locally, it saves on transportation costs and energy use too. Customers can bring their own containers or use the ones provided by OU, that can be reused. When customers bring their own containers, OU labels them with the weight upon entering the store, and then during check-out, the weight of the containers is subtracted from the total weight in order to pay for the net weight of the groceries. The label is designed to survive a few washings so customer can come back and skip the weighing process for a while. OU’s product portfolio not only consists of food, but also offers non-food products, such as cleaning products and personal care items.
Original Unverpackt says it “would like to offer this new way of shopping to a broad range of customers” including those on small budgets, but admit that their shop is located next to a vegan burger restaurant and ‘alternative’ environments can’t help but is a tell-tale sign that it attracts specific target groups. The store attracts people interested in a zero waste lifestyle, embodied in the 'upwardly mobile hipster'. Next to selling groceries in a new way, OU regularly welcomes school classes that visit the store and educates youngsters on the principles of recycling and leading a sustainable lifestyle.
“Here, the customer only takes what he needs,” Wolf and Glimbovski told journalists on the eve of the launch of their shop. “We’d like to offer an alternative way of shopping - one where we offer everything you need but you won’t find hundreds of different types of body lotion or olive oil.” Most popular are vegetables and fruits, muesli that can be mixed, but also specific products like tofu, chia seeds and bamboo toothbrushes. In their approach, OU has put the interventions that the World Resources Institute advocates to minimize food waste through portion reduction and consumer education, into practice.
Are you interested in driving sustainable innovation from developing new business models and making your portfolio future-proof? Please contact Jan van der Kaaij, Managing Partner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.
Photo source: Original Unverpackt