[Update 6/16/14: It looks like Replenish is closing its doors and will host a closing sale on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22 from noon-4 p.m.]
Most of us know that there are harmful chemicals lurking in a lot of the beauty, home and pets products found at traditional stores. Not to mention the wasteful one-time-use packaging that those products come in. But it can be difficult to navigate the plethora of alternative products available and many still come shrouded in layers of plastic.
The Replenish Bar (353 Beacon St.) is out to change all of that. The unique shop stocks nontoxic beauty, home and pet products and customers either bring their own containers or purchase a reusable one at the store to take the products home in.
“We came up with the idea last year,” said Susan Saulnier, who founded Replenish Bar with her daughter Crystal Snee. “We looked into different products. It’s an ongoing process to learn about the everyday harmful products in things.”
Replenish Bar has everything from soap, shampoo and conditioner to house cleaning solutions, laundry detergent and products specifically for pets. Many are from Vermont and all are from natural wholesalers. Replenish has recently started expanding its product line to include local makers, like Somerville Soapworks, and plans to do more of that in the future.
“We want to keep it local. The more local the better,” Snee said.
Snee and Saulnier know Replenish isn’t a typical store, so they have a big focus on educating their customers about their products. Everything is weighed and paid for by the ounce. Most of the products are unscented, but customers can add essential oils to make them smell like orange, jasmine or eucalyptus, among other scents.
“It’s a new concept for people,” said Snee, who is eager to get her customers’ feedback so Replenish can stock products they want. Most of the store’s traffic has been from the surrounding neighborhood so far and many are seeking products safe for those with allergies.
The products found at Replenish are also great for kids and babies, who are even more affected by harmful chemicals than adults, Saulnier said. Ultimately, Saulnier and Snee are seeking to give their customers a choice in what they buy, “one refill at a time.”
When Replenish Bar was first conceived, Saulnier, at left, and Snee, at right, envisioned it as a mobile business. But when they stumbled upon a sweet little Beacon Street storefront, they knew they had found a place to call home.
“Somerville and Cambridge have a good clientele,” said Snee, a Charlestown resident.
Saulnier, who lives in Watertown, added, “It was about finding the right audience. We’re really enjoying Somerville very much.”