In early March, I caught up with Tiffinie Hammerer and Lee-Ann Johnson from The Hub Refillery in Tsawwassen for my quarterly interview. The Hub Refillery sells sustainable, natural products that uses refillable containers.
Jeff: Tell me a little more about your concept and how it works. Lee-Ann: The idea behind The Hub Refillery is to make sustainable living easy for everyone. Our products are thoroughly researched and carefully curated based on quality, environmental impact, sustainability, and ethical practices.
Here is how the concept works:
1. Purchase a bottle from us or bring in your own bottles to refill
2. We will weigh the bottle
3. Choose the product you are looking for
4. We will fill your bottle or one you have purchased from us
5. We will weigh the bottle again with the product inside minus the weight of the bottle
6. You pay for the product inside the bottle
Jeff: Why did you decide to open the business? Tiffinie: I had been waiting for someone to open a refillery in South Delta. When no one did, and an opportunity presented itself, I decided to open one myself. As a Holistic Nutritionist with a degree in forensics, I had the perfect background to research and source products that are good for you and the environment. Running a business is a lot of work for one person so when a mutual friend suggested that I connect with Lee-Ann (who has a background in customer service and sales) I took him up on it. We found that we worked really well together - the rest is history.
Jeff: I like the idea of sustainable products in our community. How do you source your suppliers? Lee-Ann: Most of our vendors are small independent businesses. Many are women owned. We have found that working with small businesses gives us the ability to have input into the products, packaging and even sometimes the ingredients that go into the products that we sell. This gives us more flexibility and makes our products specific for our customers wants and needs. We have also been fortunate to be able to work in collaboration with some of our vendors to create unique products specifically for us.
Jeff: I like the idea of making products specifically for your clientele. Is it primarily the idea of not throwing out containers, or are the products good for the earth as well? If so, how?
Tiffinie: Reducing the use of plastic containers is very important to us. Unfortunately only about 9 per cent of plastic gets recycled - the rest ends up in the landfills. Reusing containers you already have or switching to glass, recycled, or compostable containers lessens the burden on the landfills and helps to protect the planet. Our motto is "saving the earth one refill at a time". The Hub Refillery is about much more than reducing plastic use though. Most people do not realize just how many harmful chemicals are in the products that they use every day. Chemicals that are absorbed into their bodies and leached into our ecosystem. We offer natural alternatives that often work better than traditional products. Our products are also sourced locally, and most are picked up by us in an electric car, further reducing the carbon footprint to bring products to our customers.
Jeff: Will you be adding other products to your line-up beyond cleaners & beauty products? Lee-Ann: We actually carry many products other than cleaners and beauty items - we have wine glasses that are made out of recycled window frames, teas from Vancouver, vitamin gummies, baby items, yoga cushions, wooden sunglasses, reusable wrap, handmade pottery - the list goes on and on but basically anything that you might need for your home or personal care - you can find at The Hub Refillery. We are also continuously vetting new vendors and searching for amazing new products so the stock we have in store is always evolving.
Jeff: How receptive was South Delta to the concept?
Tiffinie: South Delta has been very receptive to The Hub concept. Most of our customers come to us by word of mouth and we are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received by the community. We opened just over a year ago during a pandemic and have already doubled in size and offerings.
Jeff: Can you describe your typical client? Lee-Ann: We wouldn’t say that we have a “typical” customer. Our goal is to get everyone on board. We try to make our store welcoming and accessible to the masses. We don’t need one person living a perfect sustainable life, we need everyone making small changes towards a healthier planet - Individually we are one drop - together we are an ocean.
Tiffinie and Lee-Anne - thanks for sharing the story about The Hub Refillery and congrats on your success in such a short time-frame. I wish you continued success with your business.