OPINIONFresh Food

A Zero-Waste Food Store Opens in Milwaukee

COVID-19 is driving unexpected change and entrepreneurship in food

The Lempert Report

The Glass Pantry in Milwaukee is now open for online orders, with local delivery and curbside pickup only. And yes, it’s because of COVID-19, but it wasn’t planned that way.

Jenna Meier was in the investment industry and then left when her son was born. After about six months of being home she became restless and intrigued by what she had heard about zero waste supermarkets and decided she wanted in.

She told her story in an interview with Kristine Kierzek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After COVID-19, I believe we will see an onslaught of new entrepreneurs entering the food world, changing both products and retail environments.

Focusing on bulk shopping, zero waste foods and cleaning products, also with an emphasis on going package-free when possible, Kierzek created The Glass Pantry. She was working toward a soft opening and had done pop-ups at a few locations but had not yet opened the storefront when shutdowns related to COVID-19 started, she told the newspaper. The bestsellers so far have been staples like beans, lentils, nuts, dried pasta, all-purpose and pastry flours, oats, spices, maple syrup and granolas. 

Local free delivery is available anywhere in Milwaukee County for orders over $20. If you are under the minimum, or outside the service radius, you can do curbside pickup. 

The Glass Pantry is prioritizing bulk as a way for people to shop zero waste.  The store is mostly bulk dried goods in traditional bulk containers, but with some extra selections such as pasta, candy, lots of options for cereals and grains and snack foods.  

They are prioritizing local as much as possible. They’ve got local flour abd maple syrups, and the rice is from Wisconsin’s first rice farm. Their objective is to support local farmers, makers, growers and millers.  

Expect to see a lot more independent grocers like this in the future.

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