The owner of a business borne out of a deeply held belief of reducing waste wherever possible would “love” to see his concept spread over the country.

RefillAbell is located at 4, Haydon Road, Watford and is the latest business the Watford Observer is profiling in support of Watford Borough Council’s Shop Local campaign, encouraging people to shop and eat in the area this Christmas.

Founded and owned by Sameer Kassam and business partner Jane Hopkins, Watford’s first refill shop has been open since July 2021.

Sameer said: “We provide customers with the opportunity to bring in their own jars, tubs, containers, bottles, bags etc and fill up on high quality household essentials.

“These range from a range of organic oils, Gluten-Free and organic granola, specialist pastas, wild rice, nuts, seeds, tahini, all of which are organic and organic in many places too.

“Household and toiletry cleaning liquids are also available, many of which contain plant-based ingredients for a gentle touch and environmental benefit.

“All prices are based on weight that is taken per item and the clever machine will deduct the weight of your empty container from the total so you pay for just what you get!”

Watford Observer: Sameer and Jane in their Haydon Road shopSameer and Jane in their Haydon Road shop (Image: RefillAbell)

Asked where the idea for the business came from, Sameer, who has a background in archaeology and pharmacy and a “passion” for the environment and preservation, explained: “The idea stems from a deep-rooted philosophy of reducing your waste wherever possible, additionally, repurposing and reusing material that could potentially become waste and turn it into something better, essentially upcycle!

“The concept is the first of its kind in Watford and we hope to see it grow further. We’ve saved thousands of single use containers from entering landfill and collectively we can make a difference to the world.”

RefillAbell is located in the premises previously occupied by Abell Chemist, a community pharmacy that relocated to Bushey Medical Centre.

“We even kept the name and original green sign outside as it’s a fusion, and an indication, of changing times and upcycling,” Sameer said. “The original green ‘Abell’ sign was adapted to have the word ‘Refill’ put in front of it, hence the play on words for a refillable zero waste store.”

The shop's five-strong team do their best to help customers by dropping off deliveries and are also willing to offer tasters and samplers, in addition to having a loyalty card scheme.

“Our customer service, dedication and belief to the cause as well as our high quality products all combine towards making this business a success,” Sameer said. “We want to see more people repurposing their containers, jars and bags, just in the same way ‘bags for life’ were reused in the retail shopping world.

“The reward of building a community around an idea and concept you once had is fantastic.

“It’s really special to see people in your own business enjoying themselves, eating healthy, shopping consciously and interacting with others in the area who are of similar mindset.”

Asked where he hopes to see the business in the future, Sameer said: “We’d love to see more RefillAbell zero waste stores opening up and down the country as we feel this model can be replicated and benefit different areas.

“In the next five years a solid online presence would be helpful in achieving more stores.

“We’d like to work closely with schools and councils to increase the focus on sustainability and what importance it has to our day to day lives as well as for future generations.”

The Watford Observer supports businesses throughout the year with our Your Favourite competitions giving readers the chance to nominate and then vote for their favourite barbers, hairdressers, pubs and restaurants.

We also support businesses through our ongoing Love Local Business campaign launched during the Covid pandemic.

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