In March, Ray Daly opened her first brick and mortar store, Ray’s Reusables, at 935 N. 2nd St in Northern Liberties after running her business on the road as Philadelphia’s first mobile refill shop.
“In 2020, I turned a cargo van into a traveling eco-store, bringing reusable, low-waste products to farmers’ markets in East Falls and Fairmount,” said Daly. In her white van, decorated with Ginko leaves, Ray’s Reusables was well received.
“With the flexibility and mobility of the van, I was able to go into different neighborhoods around the city, making sustainable shopping easier for eco-conscious Philadelphians,” she said.
“But there were neighborhoods I could not reach due to many farmers’ markets limiting vendors to producers and also the narrowness of streets in certain sections of the City,” she said. Meanwhile, residents of Northern Liberties and Fishtown sought her out via Instagram.
“As soon as I opened the shop in Northern Liberties, they came,” said Daly. “Among the most popular products are UNpaper towels made out of cotton flannel in fun patterns,” she said. “The other products that are in demand are refills: organic hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, and body wash.” Other products include a cast iron conditioner, beeswax wrap, rosewater face cream, bamboo cutlery and brushes, natural toothpaste, and an all-purpose cleaner.
“Plastic production has increased dramatically since it first came on the scene. Between 1950 and 2019, approximately, 8.3 billion pounds of plastic were created. Only 9% of that total has been recycled. 79% is in landfills and, worse yet, in our oceans and other ecosystems,” said Daly. “I believe that as consumers we have the power to effect change. By investing in quality reusable and refillable solutions we also invest in the health of the environment.”
How it all started
A self-described “Air Force brat” who grew up in Maryland, Daly has traveled all over the world but, before moving to Philly in 2018, she had never lived in a large American city.
“I came here with my husband whose family lives across the bridge in Jersey,” she said. “I had been teaching high school English in Maryland and working at Whole Foods when I decided to go in another direction.“
“I started by turning the pockets from my old jeans into something useful and beautiful – cutlery holders! But as I watched the pandemic unfold and saw the waste that was being created as a result, I realized I wanted to do even more to support the sustainable community. That’s why I decided to open up Philadelphia’s first mobile refill shop.”
Daly seized the moment, realizing that during the pandemic people preferred to shop outdoors rather than entering a shop. Farmers’ markets created the perfect opportunity. “My mission was to make plastic-free options accessible and affordable to people regardless of where they live in the City.”
“Now that I have a storefront, it gives me a lot more flexibility in what I can carry. I just expanded to face care refills and curly hair gel,” said Daly. Besides basing her business in Northern Liberties, Daly is looking forward to becoming a neighborhood resident in the near future.
The new brick-and-mortar location shop allows Ray to stock a wider array of products, and reach a new audience but on Saturdays and First Fridays, Daly will continue to take the shop on the road. Her goal? To make sustainable options more accessible for all.
Stop by 935 N. 2nd St to support this sustainable small business during their store hours Mon, Wed, Fri: 11am – 7pm; Saturday: 3pm – 6pm; and Sunday: 10am – 4 pm, or check out their calendar to see where the van will pop up next.