newsfill it up staunton environmentally friendly store expands to charlottesville

Fill it up: Staunton environmentally-friendly store expands to Charlottesville

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

RefillRenew’s Charlottesville location.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — RefillRenew offers environmentally-friendly products to customers to fill up in empty plastic containers.

And it’s moving up in the Valley.

Well, over is more like it, to a second location in Charlottesville.

“It’s not me, and it’s not the business I created,” said Mandy Drumheller, owner of RefillRenew in Staunton. “The community was ready for it.”

The Staunton store opened two years ago on Lewis Street, and news of the store that refills recycled plastic containers with all-natural products, such as dishwashing detergent, clothes washing detergent, shampoo and hand soap, quickly spread through the community.

“We keep growing in popularity,” Drumheller said.

Growth naturally lead Drumheller to consider a second store in Charlottesville.

“We have a lot of loyal customers who come over from Charlottesville,” she said.

Drumheller said that advertisements on National Public Radio also helped get the word out to Charlottesville residents who were looking for a more environmentally-friendly way of life.

“We’re really excited about where we are,” Drumheller said of McIntire Plaza, where the second store location for RefillRenew will open in late August in Charlottesville.

According to Drumheller, the store will be in good company in the plaza: Circa is a store that sells used furniture, Rethreads is a consignment clothing store, and High Tor Gear Exchange sells upcycled sports equipment.

RefillRenew of Charlottesville will be off Route 250 behind C’ville Coffee.

“We’re going to have to adopt this way of life if we’re going to survive as a species,” Drumheller said of recycling and reusing.

The Staunton RefillRenew opened as a response to Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro no longer accepting plastics for recycling.

“[The Charlottesville store will] be just like the Staunton store, but almost three times larger with a larger selection [of products],” Drumheller said.

The Charlottesville store will be able to offer makeup, higher-end razors, more options for cleaning products, more bamboo and silicone utensils, and new laundry detergent and hand soap scent options.

“So we now have room to explore some new products,” Drumheller said, including new prints of paper towels and napkins offered at the Staunton store.

Drumheller and her husband, Dan, live in Augusta County near Barren Ridge with their daughters, ages 6 and 9.

“Dan has been amazing with helping me with Refill,” Drumheller said.

The challenge Drumheller faces as a small business owner, she said, is figuring out a balance between her store and her family life. But she does her best to do that by spending Sundays and Mondays with her family. And the other days of the week, she is with her children from 6 to 10 a.m., when she is just their mother 100 percent of that time.

The rest of the day she is 100 percent at work and focused on the Staunton store and now its growth to Charlottesville.

She also said her business could not be successful without a group of trustworthy employees.

“I like being a small business owner because you interact so closely with the community. And we have an incredible community [in Staunton],” Drumheller said.

She believes this not just because of the support of the community for the products offered at her store, but the immediate response after the flooding in downtown Staunton on Aug. 8, 2020, which flooded the Staunton RefillRenew.

The community joined together to help clean up stores and restaurants downtown, including RefillRenew.

As a small business owner, Drumheller said “the harder you work, the more it pays off.”

“You put so much of your personality into it, and so much of your blood, sweat and tears. It’s like adding someone to your family,” she said.

While you do not love your small business more than your children, Drumheller said “you still love it.”

After Charlottesville, Drumheller has plans to continue to open more RefillRenew stores.

“The Valley for sure,” she said.

Franchise opportunities for RefillRenew might even be a possibility in the future for like-minded small business owners.

“I think we’re doing it in Staunton,” Drumheller said of her ultimate goal for RefillRenew.

The Staunton store has “base products that we need for every person,” customers understand the system of bringing washed plastic items to refill with the purchase of new environmentally-friendly products.

She hopes “that we get to that smooth sailing system with all of our employees and customers,” and “that you get all of your needs met” at both stores.

“The community support [in Staunton] is outstanding. I just can’t get over how much people appreciate what you’re doing,” Drumheller said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.