“Is it worth us fighting to keep the shop open?”: Leeds zero waste store battling closure

“We were never here to get rich, we just wanted to be able to pay all the bills all the while offering this service, giving people the power to choose a more sustainable way of life.”

A zero waste shop in Leeds city centre has been asking customers “is it worth us fighting to keep the shop open?” after seeing a downward spiral in sales.

EcoTopia has become a synonymous face in Leeds city centre for those trying to lower their carbon footprint. Stocking everything from Tony’s Chocolatony in just about every flavour imaginable to zero waste versions of flour, washing powder and other household essentials, the store has been a huge educator about plastic and chemical waste.

Now, the store faces closure, citing a lack of sales as their reason for considering giving up their position in the heart of the city.

The eco-friendly store is facing closure. / Image: EcoTopia

In a heartfelt Facebook post, the owners explained that the sales of their Central Arcade Store have been declining over a period of weeks and with sales so low, they have an opportunity to fight to stay open, or close the store.

The post explained: “The last 2 weeks have been pretty bad for sales at our Central Arcade store. Can we be real and ask if it’s worth us fighting to keep the shop open? Do people actually, really want the Arcade shop to stay open? We can’t justify keeping it open when sales are so low.”

“We have the chance now to tell the landlord we want to surrender the lease, or we can make a deal to stay open until another business takes the lease off our hands, or the lease ends (Sept 2023). Right now we aren’t sure which option to go for because people say they want our shop to stay, but sales over the last 2 weeks tell us a different story.

“We want to keep fighting and keep a presence in the city centre, but we won’t fight if there’s no reason to. It’s really hard on our purses, our mental health and our families.

The store has been educating Leeds about climate change through its zero plastic waste and selection of books. / Image: EcoTopia

Read More: Leeds’ best sustainable zero waste shops and where to find them

“We just feel really downhearted about the Arcade store at the moment because a city centre shop SHOULD be doing better.

“People in all walks of life say they are fed up of plastic and chemicals in and around their products, but they don’t set foot into our shop or come onto our website to see what the options are, simply because we “appear” to be a shop suited for a specific type of person. We need help.

“We need more customers, it’s as simple as that. Any suggestions to widen our appeal to EVERYONE – without stepping on toes – will be gratefully received.

You can read the full post on Facebook here.

The store also stocks a range of cold drinks. / Image: EcoTopia

The post has since received over 100 comments, some offering advise and others genuine gratitude for their presence: “It would be wonderful if it’s was profitable to stay in the centre because I do love your shop. wish I visited more tbh.. but if its too much to keep, then it may be best to concentrate on the Bramley one I think x I want the best for you guys! And I hate to hear one of your businesses suffering. it may feel bad to lose one, but I just think shopping centres like the central arcade are suffering and it would be awful for you to continue in that. I’d say do what’s best for you and your family xx”.

Many others suggested new locations for EcoTopia to take on a new venture: “Move to crossgates. Its much cheaper for rent and I would use a local refill station! I do not travel into town as I work and don’t have the time or money to go in. Local shops is your best option”, however the owners shared that there are only two individuals running the stores so opening further branches is not an option to them.

Read More: The pay-as-you-feel cafe in Leeds creating five-star meals with no food waste

To support EcoTopia, you can visit their store inside Leeds Central Arcade and speak to the staff, make a purchase and raise awareness for the hidden store that’s been making Leeds a more sustainable place to live for quite some time.

Feature Image- EcoTopia

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