When Sarah Martin started thinking about her environmental footprint and cutting down on household waste, she struggled to find any shops locally that could offer what she was looking for. So the environmental sciences graduate decided to take matters into her own hands and open her own; a zerowaste shop selling a range of food and drinks, minus the packaging.
“We stock a wide range of nuts, pulses, grains and pasta, over 50 herbs and spices, hemp seed, flour, dried fruit, sea salt and sugar,” she says, “and also vinegars and oils, tea and coffee, and occasionally fiery dried chillies from Stallcombe House in Woodbury – handle with care! Loose products are sold by weight and customers can buy as much or little as they need.”
Nourish is proving extremely popular with customers, so much so, Sarah has recently opened a second branch on Exeter’s hip Magdalen Road, capitalising on the hopefully long-term trend of people ditching over-packaged supermarket foods for zero-waste alternatives.
“Events like the Extinction Rebellion protests in London keep the issue in the forefront of people’s minds, and highlights that concerns are crossgenerational. It’s not just the ‘Attenborough effect’ any more; our awareness has moved on from there. There are zero-waste shops opening weekly, and it’s great to see that there’s a real call for a different way of shopping,” says Sarah. “We welcome everyone, from young shoppers, students, workers on their lunch breaks to retired people.
And we always have time to talk about the ethos of the shop.” One of the niftiest pieces of kit in-store is the NutraMilk machine, which allows customers to blend their own milk-based concoctions: “It allows customers to make their own milk using nuts, seeds or oats. Basically, they add their key ingredient – or mix of ingredients – add water, push the button and hey presto! It takes around 10 minutes or so to make almond milk from scratch.”
As well as blending their own milk, customers are also mad about Nourish’s chocolate honeycomb, but it’s the store-cupboard basics that people come back for time and again. “It’s mainly staples that customers buy to avoid plastic-wrapped supermarket options, such as rice, pasta and noodles, as well as flour, which we don’t sell loose (think of the mess!), but in paper bags,” she says.
So, what’s next for Sarah and her burgeoning brand? “I’ll be looking at growing the consultancy side of Nourish, and maybe even thinking about franchising. I’m really excited by what’s happening in Devon and across the UK right now, and I believe what Nourish stands for is absolutely right for this time.”
Nourish of Topsham, 56 Fore St, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0HW