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SME Innovation | L’Écodep La Générale: a candy store like no other…

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There couldn’t be a better time to talk about the Écodep La Générale than on the day of the large-scale distribution of candies and small-format chocolate bars.

What ?

Because — although we don’t want to create eco-anxiety during this high mass of sweets — it is precisely a questioning of over-packaging that is at the origin of this original project. Marie Moubarac saw the phenomenal amount of packaging of all kinds brought home by her children and said to herself that there was certainly a way to do better.

Since the stars are sometimes aligned, there was the room of this old classic Plateau convenience store that was for rent…

This professional from the arts community decided to dive in and create a first green and responsible convenience store.

“There is bulk, zero waste and everything you need, but there was no eco-responsible convenience store,” she says.

This is how La Générale appeared discreetly, at the corner of Avenue Laurier Est and Rue Chambord.

innovation

The idea is not to replace cola with Quebec apple juice and potato chips with carrot sticks, but rather to reproduce the typical convenience store while offering for each product the best green options available on the market, after exhaustive study.

Marie Moubarac’s boutique looks like Alice’s Wonderland. The packaging (often compostable!) is beautiful — since the products are attractively presented. The fauxmage offer is tempting (yes, yes!), but we also have organic cheese and butter so that a customer who comes in for an evening errand to help out finds his account. The beer is there, the wine too. Bread, chocolate, dog food.

The team has often opted for local products or, when a food is not available here, coffee for example, towards products with organic or fair trade certification and with the most ecological packaging possible.

“We did our research, our comparisons, explains Marie Moubarac. The chips are from Ontario. They are organic, the bags are compostable and the price is comparable to that of an American company which offers its chips in plastic bags. »

Challenges

Great challenges are already (fortunately!) behind. First, the project began almost at the same time as the pandemic, causing delays in the renovation of the premises and many changes to the initial business plan. Another great storm awaited the Ecodep when it opened, inflation which puts pressure on the grocery bill and reduces the room for extras in the budget.

“We have reduced our margin to the maximum”, explains the owner who wants her products to be sold at competitive prices. Hence the interest of working with other local entrepreneurs.

My business strategy is to use innovation and creativity to achieve my social and environmental impact objectives.

Marie Moubarak, owner of La Générale eco-dep

Another challenge: to make the concept understood.

Many new customers come into the business out of curiosity or because they believe they are dealing with a nice neighborhood convenience store, but without a mission. In order for new customers to fully understand the principle, the Ecodep team explains its philosophy.

Because let’s not forget that the business is in front of a large grocery store, it must stand out.

The future

First, Marie wants to complete the product offering — the business only has 20% of the total desired merchandise — and also add a small lunch counter with vegan pogos.

“I would like it to become a place of discussion, to put benches outside, says Marie Moubarac. I would like people to have their coffee in the morning. »

Added to this is the launch of a house brand (we already make toothpaste in a small returnable container) and an online shopping site which should be launched in the spring of 2023.

But that’s not all: Marie would like her Ecodep to have babies.

“My goal, she says, is to become the first chain of convenience stores specializing in the sale of eco-responsible convenience products in Quebec. »



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