Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bulking Up

This was published in the January issue of the Left Hand Valley Courier as part of my Vicinity and Beyond series.

If the words “bulk food store” make you envision a behemoth warehouse filled with giant bags of rice and restaurant-sized jars of pickles, you’ll be in for a surprise when you step into Simply Bulk in Longmont. The “bulk” in Simply Bulk means they buy in bulk so you can buy in any quantity you want, whether it’s five pounds of flour, or a couple ounces of a spice you don’t use often.

The business is owned and run by Phil Bratty and his wife, Georgia, and it  has been open in Longmont since March 1, 2010. Phil Bratty said that it may be the only business in the country that is entirely bulk products.

Bratty isn’t a newcomer to the food industry. For the eight years before opening the store, he worked for a natural food chain in the bulk foods end of the business, and he spent a total of about 30 years in the food business.

For Bratty, it’s not all about food. “Bulk was a great way to eliminate packaging,” he said, “and at the same time, save money for customers.” He explained that every time consumers a pre-packaged product, not only are they paying for the product, but they’re paying for the container, the labels and the graphics on the labels.

When he left his corporate food job, he wanted to get into something, “that was meaningful to me, as a person.”  And reducing consumer waste was a big part of that goal. It also made sense, as a business. “Bulk departments are doing exceptionally well,” he said, thus the decision to launch “a whole store centered around bulk.”

Unlike the bulk foods section of the local grocers, Simply Bulk also sells cleaning supplies, shampoos, lotions, bar soaps, and pet supplies in bulk. In the food section, there are baking supplies, candy and snacks, coffee, pastas, grains, spices, honey, maple syrup, and more. And unlike buying in bulk at the grocery store, you can bring in your own reusable packaging to contain your purchases.

In fact, Bratty appreciates when consumers bring in their own containers, since it cuts down even more on the waste stream. He want to give his customers the opportunity to be more green “without too much pain, and reward them at the same time with a lower price per ounce.”

He said that his business benefits from the fact that there are more people cooking at home these days, and also that there are a lot of bakers in the area. Health consciousness also plays a part. While there are plenty of candies and snacks to be found, Bratty focuses on natural and organic products, so consumers “are recognizing that they don’t have to give up their treats.”

Simply Bulk is located at 418 Main St. in Longmont. For more information, call 303-678-7069 or see

1 comment:

Clydesdale Jogger said...

I'm going through your back catalog of posts. This sound really really cool. I don't know of anything like it in my area except some Amish grocery stores about a half hour away. Unfortunately they do all the packaging for you so you don't really have the freedom to buy as little or as much as you want. Got some very decent WW flour though. And they sold their bags for 7 cents which were perfect for loaves!

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