The new Ann Arbor Store values sustainability and encourages customers to “bring their own container”.
A company that encourages customers to bring their own containers to do their shopping instead of using shopping bags will open a stationary location in downtown Ann Arbor.
After a year as a successful pop-up company BYOC Co. – stands for “bring your own container” – will open this April at 255 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. Shoppers can bring any clean, dry container, from an old plastic bottle to a mason jar, to fill with the eco-friendly household cleaning and personal care products the store stocks. The store’s staff pull off the weight of the container so customers only pay for the product they buy.
“We encourage our customers to prepare for this, but we also have many cleaned containers that have been donated by people that can be taken straight off the shelf,” says Emma Hess, founder of BYOC Co.
The idea for BYOC Co. came to 23-year-old University of Michigan alum and a native of Chelsea after a period of personal struggle. After graduating from college last year, Hess had a difficult time finding work during the pandemic. After all, she invested all of her savings in combining her passion for the environment with the need to make a living.
“Refill stores have such a big impact on the planet, and when I first started there was nothing like it within 100 kilometers of Ann Arbor,” says Hess. “I had the uncomfortable feeling that a refill shop would be well received.”
So far, Hess has been right. She explains that she is moving to a store based on feedback from a growing number of repeat customers who have visited her various pop-up locations each month.
“I’m only 23 years old and it’s very scary to be like that financially with all my money, but we’ve had so many returnees and new customers that I’m very excited too,” says Hess.
When the Liberty Street shop opens, BYOC Co. will have around 40 products available, including shampoo bars and unpackaged conditioners.
“We have developed a certain cult following of people who just love them,” says Hess.
She says other popular items included a grapefruit hand soap, lavender laundry detergent, and a scented shampoo and conditioner called Moroccan oil.
“People have to come in and see and smell for themselves,” says Hess.
Jaishree Drepaul’s brother is a freelance writer and editor and currently resides in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at [email protected].
Photos courtesy of BYOC Co.