What happened to Vancouver’s only package-free grocery store?

The story of Nada, and where it is now

Amandeep Kaur (she/her) // Contributor
Sasha Lun (She/Her) // Illustrator 

In 2018, Vancouver welcomed its first zero-waste grocery store. Nada was established in East Vancouver following a successful fundraising campaign, and soon gained notoriety as a community leader in sustainability. With over 750 products supplied from local farmers and suppliers, the store offered package-free shopping experiences both in-person and online.

Nada’s main goals were to assist regional food producers and to make it simple for consumers to purchase nutritious, unpackaged goods. The founders aimed to connect customers with environmentally conscious providers. Nada’s CEO & co-founder, Brianne Miller was on a plastic-busting mission. Tired of seeing how global plastic waste was affecting animal habitats, the former marine biology researcher decided to stop plastics at the source.

Nada was committed to environmental causes even outside of its product line. One per cent of top-line sales from each transaction at the store was contributed to community-based environmental groups such as Protect Our Winters Canada. Additionally, one per cent of package-free purchases went straight to the Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada through 1% for the Planet. Nada also organized online gatherings to discuss environmental preservation, supported a zero-waste supply chain and aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12, which aims to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns.

However, Nada ran into problems in 2020, which eventually forced it to close. The store’s capacity to remain financially stable was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in buying habits that followed and the resulting challenging financing conditions. Nada announced its decision to close its physical storefront in April 2023, stating that a large increase in rent made operations financially unsupportable. Via a statement on social media, the company announced that its final day of operation would be May 31, 2023.

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