Pets Pantry, in Stockton Heath, Cheshire, believes it is the first UK pet store to offer a zero-waste pet food refill station. Here, Karen Dutton Hodgkins, founder and managing director, shares her motivation and experience with pbwnews readers
We are so excited to have launched our newest project, which is part of our quest to reduce our use of single-use plastic – we have now introduced a zero-waste pet food refill station, where customers can come in with their own containers and fill up with their favourite pet and wildlife foods.
In the Eighties, we had large seed bins in the shop from which customers could scoop their own pet foods into paper bags.
Then along came plastic options and like all shopkeepers, we were told this was the way forward. So our packing room grew busier and we cleared out the seed bins and put in more shelves to display our own pre-weighed pet and wildlife foods. Sadly, as we all know now, this was not the solution and too many single-use plastics are clogging up our oceans and harming fish and birdlife along with our planet.
The team in front of the zero-waste pet food refill station
It is great that there are so many zero-waste human food shops popping up across the UK, but we believe that we are the first pet store to introduce a zero-waste refill option for pet food.
Even though we have always recycled and re-used our waste, we want to go that step further and ultimately try to reduce all our single-use plastic. This is now available in store and our official launch on August 27 gave customers an opportunity to sample the dispensers and come and celebrate with us on what we see as a unique opportunity within a pet store.
The response from our customers thus far has been very positive as they, like us, want to include their pet purchases in helping to protect the planet for the future.
We have made a considerable investment in this new concept, with a specialist zero-waste weighing system and state-of-the-art food dispensers. This process will integrate with our EPOS till and provide a self-service system that will be seamless, slick and quick, and allows customers to move through the till with their zero-waste containers with just the click of barcode.
Remembering to bring a container with you when you go shopping will take some getting used to, but like Bags for Life, we can adapt when we need to.
We have also introduced a deposit jar scheme to start customers off if they would prefer. It is a £1 deposit per container that can be re-used over and over.
There will be a transition period as customers adjust, but the feedback we are getting from customers indicates that they are already on board.
This is only the start of our roll-out to reduce our single-use plastic, and we will be looking at all areas, section by section, to see what other changes can be made. We hope all our customers will be as excited as we are about this new concept of the zero-waste refill station.
Karen – who opened the shop in 1980 and was joined seven years later by husband Gary – outlines their plans for the future
As PetQuip pet retailer silver winner in 2017 and Warrington’s retailer of the year winner in 2018, we feel we are trail-blazing with this new concept of zero-waste, self-service.
In October 2020, we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary and our aim is to have ceased using single-use plastic by the date.
Karen with husband Gary receiving their PetQuip pet retailer silver award
Initially, we had a single-floor shop and now we have a two-storey shop, plus a warehouse at the rear with parking. Many customers collect their bulk purchases from the rear, having ordered online for click & collect.
We have always tried to move with the times, from our retail EPOS systems to our online shopping cart (www.petspantry.uk), showing all our 10,000 lines.
We pride ourselves for remaining on the high street and embracing the internet and shipping goods daily nationwide.
Our shop is always busy, and our warehouse is constantly receiving goods as well as packing goods, ready to be couriered throughout the UK.
The popularity of our family-owned business has remained over these years due to our large buying power, keen prices and a local, friendly, qualified team, who really know what they are talking about when it comes to pet and wildlife care.