Sustainability-focused store opens in Silverthorne to help customers reduce waste
SILVERTHORNE — After making her own cleaning products for years and selling them at the Dillon Farmers Market, Virginia Hammock has opened a brick and mortar store in Silverthorne for people who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Her new store, Minimal Impact Lifestyle, sells natural cleaning supplies, personal care products and waste-reducing products, such as reusable silicone snack bags and metal straws.
Inside the store, people can refill containers of products to reduce waste.
“I’ve been making these cleaning products for myself since 2012 and … beginning in 2018, I decided to go into business doing it full time. They are eco-friendly, nontoxic cleaning products,” Hammock said.
Hammock sold her cleaning products in bulk at the Dillon Farmers Market in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, she planned to open a store in March, but the timing was derailed by the pandemic. Hammock was able to open the store on weekends in June and then full time in July. People are encouraged to bring their own containers into the store, or purchase a refillable container, to buy the products by the ounce. Minimal Impact Lifestyle also sells cosmetics and home goods that are plastic-free or nontoxic.
Hammock explained that she used to drive to Denver every few months to stock up on sustainable products, which is what led her to want to open a store for people in Summit County.
Hammock has long been interested in living a sustainable lifestyle. At Green Mountain College, she earned a master’s degree in environmental studies before working at Summit County’s High Country Conservation Center.
Because she was interested in reducing waste, she looked around her kitchen to see what she could go without and started experimenting with recipes for cleaning products. In talking with friends, she heard people were interested in environmentally friendly cleaning products but didn’t have the time or energy to make their own. This led Hammock to become an entrepreneur, finding a way to sell her products.
“Being in the environmental nonprofit world, I knew that we had a baseline group of folks that really do care and want to live this way,” Hammock said.
It’s challenging enough to start a business and come up with the necessary capital investment, Hammock said, and the pandemic added another layer. She said the springtime shutdown and reopening process was difficult to navigate and that there were a lot of unknowns. However, Hammock said she’s adapted to make her business work amid COVID-19 by refilling containers for customers rather than offering self-serve, sanitizing the bulk container nozzles after people come into the store and implementing standard practices like mask-wearing and physical distancing.
“We feel like not only is it safe but that it’s a needed item for people who want to live a healthier lifestyle, especially during the pandemic,” Hammock said.
Hammock said there have been repeat customers to the store and that knowledge of Minimal Impact Lifestyle has been shared via word of mouth. She said visitors also have stopped by and have been excited to see a store like hers in the mountains.
Both Hammock and her employee, Steph Curtiss, said it’s been great to be surrounded by customers who are like-minded in their interest in sustainability. Curtiss, who started at the store when it opened, said it reflects the concept of consumerism with a purpose and that she uses the products in her own home.
“I am a firm believer that change starts at home, and we’re in a pretty dire state when it comes to the state of our planet …” Curtiss said. “I love the idea of helping the community actually reduce their waste and use things that can be biodegradable or that can be used over and over again or can just eliminate plastic in entirety from that source line.”
Curtiss said people who are in the store are generally excited about reducing their waste and that the store brings in people all along the spectrum from those who see something interesting they want to try, like toothpaste tablets, to people who want to eliminate plastic use in their lives.
Minimal Impact Lifestyle is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. The store is at 998 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne.
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