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Prince George customers encouraged to ‘fill up’ with a great, green idea

This Prince George health food and grocery store is helping reduce the impact on the environment
Ave Maria Specialties U-Fill Station is up and running

For more than three decades, Ave Maria Specialties has been helping make lives healthier. Now, the Prince George health food and grocery store is helping reduce the impact on the environment.

It’s all thanks to its U-Fill Station that is up and running which encourages customers to bring in their own containers and “fill up” on hair and conditioning products.

“We’ve been watching what’s been going on in the greater world out there, and our business has always been conscious of minimizing its footprint to follow the whole reduce, re-use, recycle system,” explains Dawn Matte, general manager at Ave Maria Specialities. “So, it seemed like a natural extension to offer people the ability to enhance that.”

Customers will be charged on the volume they fill up, whatever it is.

“Whether it’s 100 millilitres or a litre, they will be charged accordingly,” Matte says. “So, when they come in, we’ll weigh their container before we put anything in it, and then we’ll fill it up and weigh it again before charging them.”

At the outset, the U-Fill Station will encompass a small, but growing, number of products.

“We’ll have one type of shampoo and conditioner to begin with, which are unscented,” Matte says. “But we will give customers the option of adding an essential oil, so they can customize it.”

The re-filling station will only be available at Ave Maria Specialties.

“If it takes off and people are really enjoying it, we can add a few different items to the lineup and maybe expand to our other store, Mother Maria’s Market,” Matte says.

So far, customers who have heard about the you-bring container concept have been positive.

“We’re hoping it will have a large impact on how and what our customers are purchasing,” Matte says.

As the largest health food store in Northern B.C., the innovation is just part of the overall dedication to customers and the community.

Established in 1988, Ave Maria Specialties carries more than 25,000 different products that include supplements and organic grocery to original, handmade and fair trade gifts.

They have chartered herbalists available in-store to answer any questions you may have. And most staff members have been there long-term and have extensive product knowledge.

“Our staff are not just co-workers. We’re a work ‘family’ because we really care about each other,” Matte says. “We like to be there for each other and our customers as they walk along their health journey,” Matte says, adding the business recently was nominated for a Prince George Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Top Workplace Culture.

For more information about Ave Maria Specialties, visit their Facebook page or website