« Back to Blog
Staff Raves & Faves — Ted’s Excited About the Bulk Department! March 8th, 2018

by Ted Moy

When I heard that the Co-op was looking to highlight staff favorites in the blog, I jumped at the opportunity. I love reading this kind of writing and thought that I might be able to come up with something cool. That I might be able to highlight something special, an overlooked item that would be unique in taste and brand, an item on the shelf that would best show, nay, scream my personality. What could be considered so undeniably Ted?

That was back in January. Now it is March and it’s my turn to submit a piece on my Raves and Faves. Something that I could have written any time in the past six weeks but of course, I waited until now. Now, when I am ten days in on a personal challenge to carefully watch what I eat. By the way, “watching” really means not eating. I am not eating cheese and sugar and cheese and dairy and bread and rice and cheese. What could I possibly rave about in the store with these restrictions? How might my inspiration to be unique come through what seems to be such a narrow set of allowable foods? Breathe Ted. You work at the Co-op. If you can succeed anywhere, with these circumstances, it is at the Co-op.

So, I looked at my shopping basket and saw several points of inspiration: mandarin oranges, kale, carrots, a whole chicken, almonds, almond butter, Hosta Hill Kimchi, Wild Brine Spicy Kimchi Sriracha (yeah, I’ve got a thing for kimchi), cauliflower crumbles and my empty bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. OKAY. Plenty to work with. I could totally write about kimchi things. They’re colorful, smelly, slightly off to the side of mainstream. No. Too obvious. How ‘bout dem cauliflower crumbles. (Is malnutrition getting to my brain? or super-nutrition?) Nah, not this time… but don’t sleep on the cauliflower crumbles. No, this time, I’m writing about bulk liquids, specifically Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap.

This year, along with eating better and being more active and every other New Year’s resolution I make annually, I decided to be more intentional with my purchasing. I would be mindful of the values I spout off daily and do a better job living what I preach. I made a plan to do this by shopping more locally, doing more of my household grocery shopping at the Co-op and do so while remaining conscious of the dollars I’m spending. That is why I’ve taken to doing more of my purchasing out of the bulk department.

Bulk. What a beautiful department…

Often overlooked, the bulk department might be the single department that best represents our store’s core values: independence, access, affordability, purity, simplicity, hard work. Bulk departments were once a mainstay in the world of natural foods markets but over time, convenience has taken priority in many shoppers’ eyes. We’ve since ended up with bulk items packaged in plastic cups (still delicious and certainly convenient but isn’t that kinda at odds with the point of a bulk department?). Well, the spirit of a good bulk department remains strong at Berkshire Co-op Market. I present to you, our bulk liquid set. Here I shop for detergents, oils, tamari (so important), honey and of course, Dr. Bronner’s All-One Liquid Soap.

So, I shop bulk and I save. That’s pretty easy to understand. But many people don’t realize that shopping bulk is easy too. It literally requires two steps: 1) fill a container and 2) write down the number. Those looking for more convenience… I will hold my tongue.

Sure, I’m a bulk superstar. I brought my own container to refill but that’s not a necessity. We supply several reusable containers, some free, some at a small cost. I choose to reuse my bottle because I don’t want to part with my beloved reading material on the side of the bottle. Have you ever read a Dr. Bronner’s bottle? Plus, I love seeing how much of a savings I actually managed with this purchase. You see, the shelf price for this bottle of soap is typically $10.99 (but goes on sale somewhat regularly). Filling to the brim and buying from the bulk department, the same amount of soap purchased this time from the bulk department came to an even $7.00. That’s nearly four dollars staying in my pocket! My calculator tells me that I saved 36.4% and I am in the habit of trusting my calculator. And that is an everyday saving. GOSH. If only the whole store was available in bulk (I have more to say on this in a future Rave and Fave).

So I’m RAVING about one of my FAVORITE items at the store, bulk Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, available in peppermint, lavender, tea tree and almond scents. I hope you enjoyed!

Here’s how it works when you bring a reusable container for filling in the Bulk Dept…

Here is my empty bottle.

Here I am weighing the empty bottle.

It weighed .10 lbs. The cashier will not charge me this amount.

Fill the bottle.

Write the number.

Save $

P.S. – Did you know about BULK UP THURSDAYS?! Every week, a broad category of bulk foods is 10% off! Check here to see what’s on sale every week…