Refill U.P.

323 Quincy Street, Hancock, MI 49930
www.refilltheup.com

In 2020 Briana Tucker had had enough – of paper towels, that is. A self-professed messy cook, she sought out an alternative and, after some online exploration, found washable and reusable UNpaper® Towels. That was only the beginning, however, of her household’s sustainable journey. Influencers on Instagram led her to cloth napkins, beeswax wraps, toothpaste tabs, and ultimately refilleries for home and personal care products. Tucker was so hooked she decided, along with her partner, Travis Wakeham, to open their own: Refill U.P., the Keweenaw’s first zero waste refillery.

They then reached out to Michigan SBDC business consultant Daniel Yoder, who helped them get started with coaching, financials, record-keeping, market research, and funding. “Daniel was great at helping us find the right resources quickly. Daniel walked us through the process without doing the work for us,” shares Tucker. “I would 100% recommend the MI-SBDC. It’s so nice to have someone in your corner. Daniel never judged our idea and was supportive. I always felt I could go to Daniel. He advised us from the get-go, and he was unbiased.”

At their store, customers buy home and personal care products such as shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, and laundry detergent in either their own or store-purchased glass or aluminum containers – an important distinction from single-use plastic containers. According to Tucker, only about nine percent of all single-use plastics get recycled, with the rest ending up in our landfills, waterways, and oftentimes, other countries.

Moving forward, she thinks educating customers is the key to their small business’ success. “It’s a value proposition about not doing further damage to the earth. At our store, our customers can get products priced comparably to national brands and pay only for what they’re refilling – as much or as little as they need.”

Learn more about Refill U.P. here.

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