Little Spark Refill Shop, formerly Better World Refill shop, is moving and growing to better serve both Mother Earth and its customers. After owner Rachel Regula opened her store on Madison Avenue in Lakewood last October, the no-waste, eco-friendly refill shop was so successful that she has now moved from Lakewood to a new, larger location in Rocky River and will soon open a second shop in Chagrin Falls.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regula had an idea: Bring back the concept of the milkman. A no-waste refill shop, Little Spark allows customers to purchase eco-friendly products in reusable containers—bringing the milkman into the 21st Century.
“In the past, we had the milkman,” says Regula. “When our grandparents and our parents were kids, they drank their milk and had a milkman come pick up those used containers, which would be reused again and again. The concept of refilling is super simple to me, we’ve literally done this before.”
Her milkman, though, brings eco-friendly, chemical-free products to Northeast Ohio in the form of a zero-waste refill shop. The store carries everything from laundry detergent and dish soap to bamboo toothbrushes and hair combs—all sustainable and free of chemicals or irritants.
All products sold in the shop pass the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine’s standards of a “clean product” and Regula uses EWG’s Healthy Living App to verify that all products sold in the store are free of harsh chemicals, irritants, and unnatural fragrance. All products can be purchased by the ounce or the gallon.
Regula began eliminating chemicals after being diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Once she began living chemical-free, she began to learn more about the recycling and sustainability issues that come along with most consumer products.
Her goal was to not only bring safe, chemical-free items to consumers but also to create a circular economy around Cleveland.
“[It] is really as simple as reusing what you have,” Regular explains. “In a linear economy, customers buy the product, use the product, and throw the entire product away. By using a circular economy, you’re able to buy the product, use the product, reuse the container to get more product, and keep that loop going.”
Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers into the shop to refill, or they can purchase a container at the shop that they can bring back for all future shopping visits.
In early August, Little Spark Refill Shop opened its doors at 19136 Old Detroit Road in Rocky River. A larger space will allow for more product to be brought in, which is better for both customers and the environment.
“The space will be great not only for shoppers, but it will also allow me to bring in larger refill containers,” says Regula. “I’m talking 30- to 55-gallon refill tanks. That allows me to decrease prices for consumers, but also decreases our carbon emissions from shipping, too.”
The shop is good for the environment and good for the Greater Cleveland area, too. With less than a year in business under her belt, Regula secured funding to open a second location by the end of 2021 through HoneyComb Credit, an online crowdfunding platform that allows small businesses to raise capital through investors.
“We hit $30,000 in just 10 days, which was our minimum,” says Regula. “I’m still in disbelief—it feels so surreal. I went to sleep one night, and the total jumped another $15,000.”
The crowdfunding campaign raised a total of $65,590 through 59 investors. Regula says she was surprised at the amount of support she received. “I knew the store would be appreciated, but I had no idea it would be wanted and appreciated just this much,” she says.
In September Regula will open an east side location in Chagrin Falls, 49 West Orange St.
“My goal is that I can help people realize sustainability isn’t something that has to be complicated—it can be broken into a bunch of tiny swaps that add up to a big difference,” she says. “And the store is here to help you navigate that.”