Hi, we are Erika & Jeff and welcome to Park Market & Refillery.
Our story begins in 2011 when we met each other in our final year at Western University. Definitely not the most conventional match within our friend group, but our differences were diminished through a deep love for those around us and each other. After graduation, Erika started her career in the ‘Sport For Development’ non-profit sector in Toronto. First, at Right to Play then at MLSE Foundation, commuting sometimes 3 hours a day for more than 8 years.
During this time, we started to consume more information about the troubling relationship between humans and the environment. Small and large environmental changes a like was something we focused on. These decisions ranged from changing the type of car we owned, altering our diet and starting to focus on the amount of waste we were creating.
In 2018 we got married! When deciding on where we wanted to go for our honeymoon (Jeff was pro-Iceland, Erika was pro-New Zealand) we did what every newly wed couple does….compromised. So we booked a trip to New Zealand and didn’t look back.
This is where the story becomes a little serendipitous. Before our trip, a good friend told us about how they started to refill some of their household products at the former Mustard Seed in Hamilton. Loving the idea we grabbed our jars and headed down. The Mustard Seed was a lovely place, but the refilling experience was a little underwhelming. We gladly filled our jars with the only selection of soap, tucked away in the back corner, and ventured on with our day. We were happy with the 1L plastic bottle we diverted, but left wanting something more.
Then, in January 2019, we packed our reusable cutlery, mugs, camping gear and excitement and set off to New Zealand. Our first stop…Auckland. We booked a nice little AirBnb on the corner of Queen Street & Karangahape Road in the heart of the business district to gather our bearings and shake the jet leg. After scoping out the unique electrical outlets and the plethora of espresso street carts something caught our eye. Every plastic bottle in the AirBnb had a note which all read the same ‘Please don’t throw me out, if empty refill me’.
After consulting the host guide and being targeted on Instagram (super weird how you get recommendations about things you say out loud, but never search right?) we were ready. Erika picked a refillery in Ponsonby called, The Good For, and off we went with our hosts containers and our reusable bags in tow. Underwhelmed at this location, we were not. Bright, clean and beautiful with full fledged refilling of everything you could imagine. We filled up on laundry liquid, chocolate covered almonds and salted peanuts. Now the gears started turning...
Over the next three weeks we talked a lot about our life and the environment. Erika wanted something more out of her career than long commutes and a concrete jungle. The allure of starting a business that focused on conscious consumerism and the opportunity to serve environmentally-minded people was too great. By the time we boarded the return flight home we had decided that Erika would quit her job and we would start Park.