BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Despite my best intentions, I did not make it to Tare Market’s opening day (April 19) until 1p.m. or so, three hours after they first opened the doors. I felt better about that when they told me there had been a pretty big line of people waiting to get in. They seemed as surprised about that as I was. It was still practically too full of shoppers, so I made arrangements to come back later and talk to Kate Marnach and Amber Haukedahl, the two young entrepreneurs who own and run this innovative and transformative business at 2717 E. 38th Street, an anchor retail tenant in the newish (38-28) 38th Street Station Apartments.
Tare Market is the big story on East 38th Street right now. The zeitgeist is “getting real about climate chaos.” Most intelligent beings on the planet are doing that in some way, even if it just means despair or resignation. One approach is the zero-waste movement; www.trend-hunter.eco has a page on the zero-waste model and even Bon Appetit has covered it recently. Tare Market is Minnesota’s very first zero-waste retailer. Zero-waste in this case mostly means close to zero packaging on your purchases, thus the “tare” part. Tare weight, as you may or may not know, is how much your container weighs when empty. If you’re paying high bucks per ounce for a bulk item, and you put it into a glass jar that you already own and that weighs many ounces, obviously you’re overpaying. So in bulk selling, you weigh the container empty and then subtract that amount from the weight at the register. Tare market carries a modest (but growing) number of food and a few non-food staples sold in bulk. They also sell container-free bulk items to replace such things as toothpaste in tubes, shampoo and conditioner (which both come in bars or in bulk liquid), feminine hygiene items, actual shaved soap flakes for laundry and a vast array of makeup. And they sell a great selection of permanent container items, from beeswax food wrap, to lunch kits, to string shopping bags, to cloth coffee filters. Some items replace plastic with something better—i.e., toothbrushes made of compostable bamboo and natural fiber bristles.
Kate’s story: Kate is married with three children. She lives in the suburbs, has a background in biology and conservation, and is one of three moms-of-three (one urban, one rural, besides her) who run a blog for families trying to live out the zero-waste challenge called www.zeroish.org. She and Amber met at the Nokomis Green Fair in 2018 where both of them were presenting or tabling. Before she “went zero-waste” she was proud because her family’s recycling far outweighed their trash. She was very concerned about the Elk River landfill, and other mega-garbage issues. She took the zero-waste challenge in 2018 and soon after that, got involved with the blog. Since I have been passionate about alternatives to disposable diapers since my own first baby in 1975, I asked her about that, what’s available now. There have been great advances in cloth diaper technology, but the alternative I used, a diaper service, is still available for parents who lack their own laundry facilities or the time it takes. She mentioned a great local resource: Do Good Diapers, a local Minneapolis-based diaper service that also sells compostable disposables, wipes and disposal bags, for use in daycares or travelling.
Amber’s story: Amber is married and has a canine fur-baby. She lives in South Minneapolis and also has a background in a related field (environmental studies) and also took the zero-waste challenge, in 2017. She maintains a blog called www.zero-wasted.net that predates the opening of Tare Market—she’s been selling alternative products and containers and bulk items online since June 2017. She has taught community ed classes in zero-waste through Seward Co-op. She was kickstarted into becoming an entrepreneur after hearing a podcast about how women talk themselves out of taking risks, and started by convening a group of seven enthusiasts, which included Kate. The other five ended up not being co-owners but being a sort of advisory and encouragement council, with each one of the seven having a unique lens on the business, whether it was sustainable retail practices, marketing and media, or zero-waste fashion. She mentioned other activities that Tare Market did before opening and/or will do in the future— pop-ups, an email list, a booth at a Pinner’s conference, a mindful mending group. There is a Mindful Mending class coming up May 7 at the Tare Market at 7 p.m. Tare Market and Tiny Diner will be collaborating on a class called Sustainability for Beginners on May 18 at 1 p.m. (register through Tiny Diner).
Definitely check out Tare Market. You don’t have to be zero-waste to start making small changes, and Kate and Amber welcome that approach. Kate says: “Don’t wait until you’re perfect. Start here.” Speaking of Tiny Diner and the Seward Co-op, both of these strong, sustainability-promoting organizations are also present on East 38th Street. Both have a plethora of classes in related areas—permaculture, growing your own medicinals, sustainable self-sufficiency in many areas. Check the Tiny Diner website’s calendar for their classes at www.tinydiner.com/events/. You can filter out just classes at Seward’s Friendship Store on East 38th by going to https://seward.coop/friendshipclasses.
Another facet of sustainability is growing your own stuff. Sadly, one of our oldest gardening supply outlets, the wildly independent Southside Farm Store, appears to have closed permanently, as has A Tree Service, which was a good resource for mulch and straw bales as well as tree maintenance and Christmas trees. (Both were on East 38th.) Not so scruffy and old-school, but with a more robust inventory of wonderful things for plant and soil lovers, there is still Mother Earth Gardens at 3738 42nd Ave. S. It’s just getting into the time when you need to buy your seed and bedding plants, if you haven’t already, as well as supplies and soil enrichment if you need it, and Mother Earth Gardens is hopping with business. They sell only neonicotinoid-free plants and seed, and have a wide-ranging organic selection, across food and non-food plants. Another section I love is the native prairie plants section. It’s hard not to catch the gardening bug if you go there as a newbie or non-gardener, and veteran gardeners swear by them as well.
Finally, another piece of the sustainability puzzle is re-use, or upcycling, as it is sometimes called now. A small shop open only on Saturday and Sunday is Handpicked Consignment Boutique at 2410 E.38th St. Although there are loads of stores like this in the area, including a few on 42nd Street and many more on Minnehaha Avenue, I think this may be East 38th’s only one. They carry a nice mix of previously-owned fashion items, local artisanal jewelry and artwork, and upcycled furniture items. They have a website, a Facebook page, and an Instagram feed. Probably the best way to get in touch during the week, when they’re not open, is via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shophandpicked. Or you can email them at email@example.com.
For a few other goings-on along East 38th Street, I will mention the coffee shop spot at the corner of East 38th Street and 28th Avenue. It was Daily Coffee and Provisions, which seems to have abruptly closed last summer. In September, the spot re-opened under new management as Key West Bistro. They serve a large variety of lunches, snacks and baked goods and both hot and cold drinks, with a Cuban and Key West slant. For instance, pan cubano-based sandwiches, and a mocktail called The Hemmingway (sic). Also they can put your selfies on your latte instead of just the usual leaf pattern, if you want that. Southside Pride has not had a chance to visit yet, so I can’t say any more, but it looks promising.