Packaging-free grocery store GoodFor comes to Auckland

Health-oriented specialty supermarkets are nothing new in New Zealand, but Auckland’s newest example of the genre represents a genuine step forward. GoodFor is a ‘wholefoods refillery’ where bulk goods flow free and plastic packaging is nowhere in sight.

GoodFor opened near Countdown on Ponsonby’s Williamson Ave on March 6, and has five staff. Founder and director James Denton, 29, says the business is about health and sustainability – he and brother Paul Denton, who is leaving a different job to become the general manager, share a desire to make positive change in the world.

Denton was inspired to found GoodFor after delving into the depth of the issues sparked by “the ridiculous amount of waste we create.” According to Statistics New Zealand, the proportion of packaging waste that Kiwis recycle has doubled since 1994, but packaging consumption has also risen – each New Zealander uses 162kg of packaging per year.

Using re-usable bags at the supermarket is a good move, says Denton, but the responsibility to reduce waste shouldn’t stop there: “[I thought] ‘Hold on, when I go to the supermarket, I’m filling my bag up with plastic.’”

GoodFor addresses this by going packaging-free. A wide variety of dry goods is presented loose in bulk bins, and liquids such as maple syrup are dispensed from tanks on a shelf. Paper bags and glass jars are available for purchase, or customers can bring their own receptacles.

There’s also a boutique selection of waste-reducing products such as bamboo toothbrushes and Ethique solid beauty bars.

Denton established Queenstown taco restaurant Taco Medic, but sold his shares in the business to open GoodFor. He came upon the packaging-free grocery concept in Australia after spending a year searching for the right eco-friendly business idea, considering everything from seed propogation to an on-site supermarket bag elimination programme.

Once the kernel of GoodFor was settled on, it took Denton just four months to go from conceptualisation to opening day.

“I am a little bit nutty because I work 24/7,” he says. “I want to prove that you can make a profit out of a sustainable business.”

Despite no pre-opening press or any traditional marketing campaign, the public response to GoodFor’s opening has been promising, Denton says. Five hundred customers came through the small store on its first day.

“We’ve had an unbelievable response, every customer has praised it.”

“It’s so easy to get people behind a concept like this,” Denton says. “It’s something a consumer can immediately act on – they don’t have to buy an electric car, they don’t have to fit their house out with solar panels. It’s really easy.”

This story first appeared at The Register.