Simply Bulk, located at 418 Main Street, is the closest thing to a supermarket Longmont has in the downtown area. And while they stock a variety of items, their main focus is bulk foods.
Heidi and Devon Quince, owners for the past two and a half years, have worked hard to keep the focus of the store on bulk foods. For the couple, buying in bulk has been a part of their lives for some time.
Heidi grew up in an area of Southern California where everyone had to be environmentally conscious of their waste due to a lack of waste services, so she has always been aware of how much trash she and her family produces.
After marrying Devon, the couple enjoyed shopping at co-ops and sought them out in all of the places they lived. In 2010, they moved back to Longmont and discovered the Simply Bulk store had opened and were excited to see such a store.
Although Simply Bulk has never been a co-op, like many, Heidi and Devon were excited to be able to buy as little or as much of items and to use their own containers, eliminating waste.
“We instantly started shopping here. It was something we lived by, it was part of our philosophy to buy bulk,” says Heidi.
In 2016, the former owner, Phil, of Simply Bulk decided to retire. Heidi and Devon enjoyed the store so much and wanted to see it continue and decided to buy it.
It took several months of tutelage from the previous owner before Heidi and Devon felt ready to run a small supermarket on their own. The previous owner had over 40 years of experience running and designing supermarkets, and the couple was grateful that he stayed on for a few months to share his wisdom with them.
They also took advantage of other business resources to help learn the ins-and-outs of running a successful business. They have since become teachers of their own and are offering advice to folks in Denver and Estes Park who plan to open their own bulk grocery stores. Their best advice is to start small.
That is advice that they learned from the previous owner. In 2010, when Simply Bulk began, the economy was not doing well. Phil decided the least risky way to get started was to stock only items that people wanted. By doing so, he never had items just sitting on shelves collecting dust.
One of the most important things to the Quinces was the opportunity to help customers reduce waste. “Most of our shoppers come here, they have their crate of containers, they know they can fill up on all of their dry goods and basically go home with zero waste, no new containers,” states Heidi.
According to Heidi, shoppers enjoy that they are able to come in and buy only the quantity they want of most of the items in the store and that they are able to use their own containers to transport it home.
“Pay for the product, not the packaging and buy as much as you want or as little as you want,” says Devon, as he explains that one service they provide is helping people buy only what they need to create a recipe even if that means a customer is only buying one teaspoon of one ingredient.
The store does not require that customers bring their own containers, as store packaging is available, however, being environmentally minded, both Heidi and Devon encourage it. Customers need to know that, according to the Health Department, all containers need to be sanitized.
This unique feature, of bringing your own container, allows customers to begin to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in their homes, however many struggle with the question of how to begin.
Heidi suggests that people begin slowly by bringing in only a few containers at first. This method allows customers the opportunity to really see how much or how little they actually use and not take home too much that just goes to waste.
Along with offering a multitude of organic products, Simply Bulk has something for every kind of diet, from gluten-free to Keto. Most people will find something to meet their dietary needs.
Beginning this year, Simply Bulk began implementing the next steps toward making their store more like a market by offering fresh produce. The store now sources seasonal produce from local farmers in small quantities. In addition to produce, they also try to carry milk, eggs and cheese from local farms as often as they can.
Heidi and Devon believe it is important to get as many of their supplies as possible from local sources in order to support the community. “We support the community and the community supports us. I just love being a storefront for the little businesses that don’t have their own storefronts.” The store often stocks its shelves with baked goods, soaps, herbs and oils from local vendors.
Simply Bulk has been expanding their connections to local bakers and brewers. These businesses often order supplies through Simply Bulk, since the store is able to buy those ingredients in large quantities.
“People’s philosophies are in line with this concept. More and more people are discovering this desire to be aware of where their food is coming from and that falls naturally into the philosophy of the store,” says Heidi.
Additionally, Simply Bulk hosts a mini-farmer’s market inside their store occasionally. This allows local vendors to sell their goods to a larger number of customers on Main Street.
Looking to the future, Heidi and Devon hope to continue growing Simply Bulk into more of a locally sourced grocery store that meets all the needs of its patrons.
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