Adding another layer to its ever-broadening sphere of influence over all things recyclable, Trenton-based TerraCycle has opened a retail store in Palmer Square, less than a mile from where the firm started six years ago.
The TerraCycle Store, conceived by company founder Tom Szaky, will feature more than 200 items made from waste packaging and materials, as well as on-site collection bins for the products that eventually will return to the shelves here.
TerraCycle, which began as a maker of a liquid plant food made from worm poop, took on a new direction when Szaky began seeing trash as a commodity a few years ago. The company sold its plant food through major retailers such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart in reclaimed soda bottles, and soon realized that other products thrown in the trash — cookie wrappers, drink pouches, yogurt containers — could be given life beyond the landfill.
The company now manufactures kites made from Oreo cookie wrappers, purses made from soda can pull tabs, and school supplies made from drink pouches, among dozens of other toys, home products, and garden supplies. Until the store opened on September 25 TerraCycle’s products were only available online at www.terracycle. net, or through major retail outlets.
Albe Zakes, a spokesman for TerraCycle, says the store is a pilot for what could become a national chain. “We want to see how this one does first,” he says. Zakes says the idea is two-fold, first a retail outlet and next a collection site for the 48 types of waste materials the company uses. A 2-cent donation to a choice charity will be made for each item collected in the store.
The location in Palmer Square is the former home of custom tailor Modern Bespoke, which closed its doors in September and moved to New York. It is also a space owned by Palmer Square Management, a commercial real estate firm and one of the original investors in TerraCycle. Palmer Square CEO David Newton says his firm is not invested directly in the store, but says also that Palmer Square gave the store an incentive deal while both parties see if the retail idea will work out in the long run. The store pays no rent, but rather will contribute an undisclosed portion of its profits, a deal Newton says will be reviewed after a few months when more information about the store is known.
Apart from the existing relationship with the property managers, Zakes says, the location was chosen because the store can further the “young, hip image” that is the next generation of Palmer Square. Traditionally seen as a more formal site for retail, Palmer Square is slowly transforming into a center of interest for the young, eco-savvy, and hip, he says. He cites the Bent Spoon ice cream shop, which sells ice cream made from organic ingredients, as an example of the shift.
TerraCycle has grown numerous arms since its inception in 2003. Apart from its products the company also produces a television show, “Garbage Moguls,” which airs on the National Geographic Network. The store is the topic for an upcoming episode and the crew was shooting here over the store’s 24-hour opening weekend.