New grocery store to bring zero-waste movement to Milwaukee this year

To offer locally sourced bulk products and household items

Photo by Shuterstock

Last updated on October 23rd, 2019 at 02:13 pm

Walker’s Point will soon be home to a business that claims to be Milwaukee’s first zero-waste, bulk grocery store.

The Glass Pantry LLC has taken over a 1,000-square-foot space at 1039 S. 5th St., with plans to open before year’s end.

It will sell dry goods such as nuts, seeds, rice, grains, spices and coffee as well as liquids like vinegar, oil and maple syrup. Those products will be dispensed from gravity bins or scoop containers and paid for by weight. As a no-waste store, shoppers are asked to bring and fill their own containers or use store-provided paper bags.

“I hope we can inspire people to shop in a more sustainable way,” said owner Jenna Meier.

Most of The Glass Pantry’s products will be sourced locally, and about 80 percent will be organically produced.

Meier said she noticed zero-waste supermarkets popping up in larger cities around the country, so she wanted to bring the trend to the local market.

Milwaukee is home to several grocers that have bulk-good sections, including Outpost Natural Foods, Riverwest Co-Op, Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme, but The Glass Pantry will focus mainly on those products with similar pricing, said Meier.

The Glass Pantry will also carry a variety of household or gift items including reusable straws, water bottles, containers and compostable bags as well as all-natural soaps, body wash and shampoos.

The store may eventually add a produce section, especially with a limited amount of grocery stores nearby, Meier said.

“We were trying to be in the middle of as many neighborhoods as we could without people having to drive through the city to get to us,” she said. “It’s accessible from the freeway and from public transit and it’s pretty bikeable down 5th Street.”

Meier said her passion for environmental sustainability is relatively new. She left her career in finance about one year ago after giving birth to her first child, and has since been inspired to maintain a low-waste lifestyle and purchase organic products.

However, she had found herself traveling to as many as three stores each week to purchase the goods she needed without wasting packaging. She said she waited and hoped a no-waste, bulk-focused grocer would open a local store, but eventually decided to take matters into her own hands.

“It’s setting a good example for (her son) and showing him how we want to live and how we want to set the system up in the future for his generation,” she said.

Meier said starting the business has been a learning experience, but she’s excited to meet people with similar interests.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.