STAUNTON — A global pandemic and heavy flooding are just a couple of the challenges RefillRenew owner Mandy Drumheller has faced since opening her business in 2019.
Through it all, she’s persevered and was awarded the 2020 woman-owned business award by the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of November.
“It was super exciting, especially since it was our first year in business,” Drumheller said. “We were honored and thrilled.”
RefillRenew, better known as Refill, features a selection of bulk refill items — personal care and household goods — and zero waste products that aim to help cut back on plastic waste.
Refill opened in June 2019 after Staunton and surrounding areas eliminated plastic recycling. Along with Cassy Maxton-Whitacre, Drumheller searched for other plastic recycling options in the region, but the two came up short. Refill was the solution. Maxton-Whitacre left Refill at the beginning of the year to focus on her teaching career, Drumheller said.
When you walk into Refill, it’s impossible to miss the four large bright blue tanks sitting in the store’s right-hand corner. The tanks are filled with free and clear dish soap, glass cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, and what Drumheller calls the best seller in the house — laundry detergent.
“I think people really appreciate this because it is truly zero waste. When these tanks [are] empty, we have a truck that backs up and refills them, so there’s no plastic whatsoever,” Drumheller said.
To purchase any of the bulk refill items, customers can bring in their own containers or pick up a jar from the donated bottle library to buy product by the ounce. During the pandemic, bottles are sanitized before they are weighed and filled with your choice of product. Customers can also use mason jars for a $2 deposit that is refunded when jars are returned.
Other popular sellers are shampoo and conditioner, reusable lunch bags and locally made bar soap. Drumheller said Refill tries to work with local vendors whenever possible and added that working with them is fabulous.
“People really rally behind small businesses,” Drumheller said. “It feels like a home and feels like a family sometimes because our customers turn into regulars.”
The award winner said there are no differences or additional challenges just because she is a female business owner other than being out of the workforce for 10 years as a stay-at-home mom before opening Refill last summer.
“That’s hard. I’m rusty getting back into working,” she said.
Drumheller said her schedule was flipped upside down after the pandemic hit in March. Since then, everything has been what she called a scramble.
“Every day has been a challenge,” she said. “It’s just always something.”
One thing that’s not a challenge for Drumheller is Refill’s customers. At this time, the store is still limiting the number of shoppers inside, but Drumheller counts herself lucky because she’s not received any backlash from customers concerning state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions.
“Our people are taking this seriously and respecting the rules, so we now allow three people in at a time as long as everyone keeps their distance, sanitizes hands as soon as they come in and wears a mask properly,” she said.
Refill is located in Staunton at 110 Baldwin St., Suite 1. The store entrance and parking lot face Lewis Street. Customers can shop in person Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or online at refillrenew.com. Online orders can be picked up during all business hours.