• Robert and Andrea Watt.

Bringing The Source to The Shore

Zero waste, zero packaging, healthy wholefood supplies are at the source of a food shopping revolution on the Shore.

Eco-conscious customers have been flocking to The Source in Milford since it opened its doors with a new take on an old-fashioned shopping concept last month. And good old-fashioned personal service is an essential part of the mix. 

Brother and sister owners Robert and Andrea Watt are passionate about bringing back the spirit of the traditional village general store, akin to the one their grandfather Dick Pugh owned in St Andrews, South Timaru, during the 1950s and 60s. Robert said: "This is shopping the way it used to be for our grandparents." Andrea remembers the sack of opened peanuts on the counter to which everybody helped themselves, despite the sign that said 'these peanuts are for selling not eating'.

A woman once asked Dick Pugh where his delicious, unlabelled honey originated. He replied: “The bees”. Those two words capture the spirit of The Source Bulk Foods Milford – the first of what will be a national chain of natural food, zero waste family-owned stores in New Zealand. The Source has proved a phenomenal success in Australia, where it originated, with 38 stores now in operation.  

Andrea and Robert, who own the New Zealand master franchise, are well-positioned to drive growth, having grown up in a retail environment that began with their parent’s golf shop at Timaru Golf Club, and then the Takapuna Golf Club store, which Robert sold in 2001.

More recently Andrea worked in travel, while Robert launched a national waterproofing franchise. After discovering The Source Bulk Foods concept in a small store in Byron Bay in 2012 – the first store started by franchise founders Emma Smith and Paul Medeiros in the same year – Andrea and Robert united for a family project in 2015 and the genesis of the New Zealand story began.

Shoppers can make their own almond, cashew or peanut butter in-store, take home a pot of raw honey or fill up on Salted Caramel energy balls following the opening of the region’s first raw foods, zero waste bulk food store.

“Where else can you bring your own glass jars or bottles to fill up with exactly the quantity of ingredients you need? A big frustration for people is the wastage that goes into buying a bunch of ingredients for one recipe only to use a fraction of the ingredients – not to mention the several layers of plastic and foil that comes with each product,” says Andrea.

Customers have the opportunity to mill their own flour on site and enjoy Kombucha available in three different flavours on tap.

In addition to bulk wholefoods, shoppers are be able to find natural personal and cleaning products – and can bring their own bottles or containers to fill. The store sells a wide range of zero waste products such as beeswax food wraps, organic cotton produce bags, stainless steel water bottles and glass jars. They are proudly plastic bag free and have paper bags or jute shopping bags for customers who haven’t brought their own packaging. 

The Source stocks well over 400 other products like teas, herbs and spices, superfoods, confectionery, cooking liquids, cooking flours, beans, rice, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and ready-made mixes such as Coconut Lentil soup and organic buckwheat pancake mix. Every product is labelled with its point of origin.

The next chapter will see the launch of an online store, followed by the Kumeu store before the end of this year and then the rollout of franchised stores throughout the country. But for now, Andrea says: "It's great to launch The Source on The Shore!"


The Source, 129 Kitchener Road, Milford www.thesourcebulkfoods.co.nz or thesourcebulkfoodsmilford on Facebook

Open seven days a week, 9am - 6pm Monday to Saturday, 10am - 4pm on Sundays.