Soap Refill Station opens just when cleanliness is essential
By Jill Draper
In the age of coronavirus, last month was not a great time to open a new store. At the Soap Refill Station in Waldo, however, business has been good.
“Obviously we sell essentials,” says Anne Dezort, who co-owns the store with her boyfriend Adam McKay. They converted a former CBD shop (and before that, a hair salon) at 7441 Broadway into a freshly painted space that offers soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, facial products and more in refillable containers.
Their goal is to reduce single-use plastic waste in landfills and waterways. And by selling in bulk, they’re able to charge customers about 20% less for eco-friendly products than at other stores, Dezort says.
“There’s no single kind of customer,” she adds. “We have all types in here, because soap is for everyone.” While some come just to fill up jugs of laundry liquid, others enjoy browsing the hand soaps, shampoos and conditioners, custom face masks and creams, and essential oil bar.
Dezort has even hosted bachelorette parties at her first store in Springfield, Missouri. After realizing that many of her customers were traveling from Kansas City, she decided to open a second store here. A third store in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is managed by her friend, but she has no current plans to offer franchises.
The Soap Refill Station sells reusable containers or customers can bring their own. Dezort has seen quite an assortment over the last few years, from vintage beer bottles (corked at the top) and Sriracha sauce bottles to giant cookie jars and old face cream jars. A bin holds free donated containers for use, as well.
Customers can purchase a variety of well-known brands or they can buy the house brand. They also can customize products by mixing several together or by adding essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, cedar, peppermint, ginger and cardamom. Stain boosters can be mixed with laundry soap, and clay or exfoliants can be added to a face wash.
Most products are sold by weight, but the inventory also includes wool dryer balls, bamboo toothbrushes, wooden dish brushes with removable heads and reusable menstrual cups. No hand sanitizer is carried because that requires federal regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (although the FDA is considering relaxing the rules).
Dezort studied film-making in Springfield, where she met McKay, and later moved to California. She learned the soap refill business after working at a similar store in Nevada City. She says the owner eventually gifted the idea to her. She manages the marketing, employees and ordering, while McKay handles the banking and business side.
Her stores have many repeat customers, but she can usually tell when someone walks through the door for the first time. “Oh my gosh, it smells so good in here!” is the typical response.
Dezort offers curbside pickups and drop-offs, and recently added a delivery option. The Waldo store is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. See more at soapkc.com.