Jennifer Norman wouldn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stand in her way of opening up Kamloops’ first eco-friendly refillery.
The mother of three began planning the business venture a year ago and was set to open this past spring when the pandemic put the brakes on the economy.
With B.C. now in the midst of its economic restart, Norman is ready to launch, with Aug. 15 the expected opening date of the store in Southgate, in the plaza that is home to Walmart and Michaels.
Norman is opening Our Footprints — a place where customers can buy various soaps, lotions and other cleaning products in bulk, filling their own jars, an endeavour that would ordinary involve repeat purchases of single-use plastic containers.
There is also a variety of eco-friendly, compostable products on the shelves, such as pot scrubbers, sponges and cardboard chapstick tubes, along with items made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, including breadboxes and soap dishes.
Originally from Calgary, Norman moved to Kamloops about six years ago for a slower pace of life and to start her family.
When she opted to resume a career, Norman began looking for something with more flexibility as she has three children, including a son with special needs.
She also wanted something meaningful.
Norman explored various business opportunities, but every time she was looked into a possibility, she pondered how to make it more sustainable and eco-friendly.
“It just kind of evolved to ‘Why don’t I open up an eco-store?’” she said.
Norman had a building leased earlier this year at a different location, but when the pandemic hit, the opening was put on hold and Norman got out of the agreement.
“My landlord graciously said, ‘Go, get out of this lease because who knows how long you’ll be closed,’” Norman said.
She kept inventory in her house, but knew she couldn’t simply just walk away from opening the store as she had already invested in product.
Norman also knew Our Footprints is a store Kamloops needed, especially given the pandemic has created a lot of waste in the form of single-use masks, gloves and food containers.
“With the amount of waste associated just with COVID-19 alone, regardless of all our single-use plastic habits prior to COVID-19, now more than ever it’s important to focus on how we can minimize waste where we can,” she said.
Norman, who also opened a store in Kelowna, will welcome customers to her Kamloops location, next to EB Games in the SmartCentres Shopping Centre (where Walmart is located) at Hillside Drive and Notre Dame Drive.
The store will have more than 700 products on offer and feature a children’s play area in the back for moms shopping with their children.
Norman said staff are well-versed in COVID-19 protocols, noting about four customers will be allowed to shop at a time.