London, Ont.’s Reimagine Co. dreams bigger after overwhelming support for grocery store

Grocery prices are shooting up. Heat and drought are partly to blame for the hit to consumers. via Reimagine Co/Facebook

Reimagine Co., a zero-waste store in London, Ont., was hoping to raise $50,000 in 30 days for what would be the city’s first zero-waste grocery store — they did it in nine.

Now, the owners have announced a stretch goal of $75,000 that would allow them to add some luxury items like a juicer, a nut grinder, a plant-based milkshake machine, juice and milk dispensers, and more.

The crowdfunding campaign itself is unique, as the company is providing store credit for all donations through a platform for social enterprises called Chuffed. The store credit is good until Dec. 31, 2021.

The business, which had been operating a storefront out of 211 King Street in the old Novack’s building as well as a space in the Western Fair Market, is moving to 206 Piccadilly St., southwest of Richmond and Oxford streets.

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The $50,000 raised so far will go towards renovating the space, painting it, patching up floors, and buying standard equipment like shelving, scales and display units.

We’ve been blown away by the support from the community. It’s real validation for the concept,” Reimagine Co.’s Heenal Rejani told Global News.

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“We aimed to raise $50,000, which we thought was an ambitious target in a 30-day period. Now ten days in we’ve raised $55,000.

Rejani also further explained the concept of a zero-waste grocery store, which also helps consumers reduce food waste.

“The idea of zero waste or package-free grocery store is that there’s no plastic packaging, everything comes in bulk. And so you’re only buying the food that you actually want to eat and not paying for any of this extra packaging. What that means is that you can buy as little as much as you want — you can buy one apple, you buy 50 grams of sugar rather than having to buy 500 grams or a kilo. It saves on food waste as well as saving on packaging waste.”

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Speaking with Global News before the campaign launched, Rejani explained that Reimagine has been working with local authorities to address the added challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

“How do you run a food business, let alone a package-free food business in this time? And that’s something we’re working with the city and the health unit and really thinking through, doing risk assessments and ‘how can we do this in the best way?’” he said.

United Nations experts recently listed climate change as among the factors contributing to the rise in diseases that, like the novel coronavirus, are passed from animals to humans. In a report in July, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) jointly identified seven trends responsible for such diseases, known as zoonotic, calling on governments to take steps to stop future pandemics.

Reimagine is hoping to open in November.

Click to play video: 'We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change'
We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change

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