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  • Writer's pictureWorld Half Full

Bagging your customers


In a bid to encourage customers to ditch plastic bags in favour of reusables, the owner of a Vancouver grocery store — East West Market — came up with a unique idea. He branded the plastic bags he’d reluctantly hand out to customers with embarrassing slogans such as “Dr Toad’s Wart Wholesale”, “Adult Entertainment Video Emporium”, and “Colon Care Co-op”. Explaining the initiative, store owner David Kwen told WBUR-FM: “The underlying thing is that it creates conversation, and that’s what we wanted to get across to the general public.” 

However, the scheme backfired somewhat when customers began flocking into the store to snap up the shaming bags. Kwen remained undeterred. Deciding to capitalise on the demand, Kwen transferred the humorous designs to canvas tote bags. “A lot of people care about the environment, it just has to be brought to their attention,” says Kwen. His customers seem to have got the message: 96% of them are now using reusable bags when shopping. “If you talk to people in a nice, humorous way, I think they listen,” says Kwen. 

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