While Katherine Reynolds lived a relatively eco-friendly life, it wasn’t until she lived in London for three years when her appreciation of sustainable produce and living was truly formed.
“Living in the UK really opened my eyes to the intensity of waste and the impact supermarkets have on us as consumers and the environment – which allowed me to look into it more back home,” she says. “Since coming home I’ve honed in on what I would want to do, where I would like personally to shop and that’s how Valerie’s Pantry started!”
Valerie’s Pantry is Belmont’s newest bulk wholefoods and liquids store on the bustling High Street strip, offering an alternative to the chain supermarkets sharing the same space.
“I felt there was a real gap in Geelong for a specialty store like Valerie’s, that caters to a large audience of people wanting to reduce their waste, be more mindful about the food they’re buying and eating, and even reducing toxins from their home and body products,” Katherine says.
Named after her grandmother, the store stocks organically and locally grown produce, Zeally Bay baked goods daily, dips, pies, the Pana Chocolate range and many other planet-friendly choices you can make for your home.
The first thing you’ll notice stepping into the building, which was previously a real estate office, is the many tubs and containers that line the far wall. Filled with everything from organic tri-colour quinoa to roasted salted pistachios, this element of the business encourages shoppers to reduce plastic packaging by bringing in your own reusable glass containers.
It’s a choice that’s being adopted by many, with the recent revelations of just how much waste traditional supermarket shopping puts into the world. Every year Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags while shopping (CleanUp Org) and we’ve all seen the recent War on Waste series with Craig Reucassel where it’s revealed 50,000 coffee cups are binned every 30 seconds.
“I’ve been hunting for stock for the majority of my planning,” Katherine says when discussing the importance of each item. “I have especially been looking at if the product is organic, and if it’s not, what the brand or company is doing to work towards that, or what practices they’re using instead, or if they are striving towards sustainability or using ethical practices. Also, if it tastes great!”
Having worked in a green grocer in Australia for six years before spending three years in London working for various start-ups, with this store Katherine has paired her knowledge developed over the years with her passion to make it possible. Of course her family igniting the spark by purchasing organic vegetables boxes when Katherine was a child and the more physical help they’ve instilled in the store fit out has made Valerie’s Pantry a reality.
Where: 138 High St, Belmont
When: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-3pm; Sun 10am-2pm
Ph: 03 5245 8656
Published in Forte Magazine and online.