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Waste Not preps for grand opening in Geneva

One of downtown Geneva’s newest businesses is nearing its grand opening later this month. Waste Not will open with a soft launch date scheduled for Friday, August 30th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

After receiving a $25,000 grant from this year’s allocation of the Microenterprise Assistance Program, Waste Not founder and owner Marilla Gonzalez has hustled to get her storefront ready ever since obtaining her funding.

Issued in July, with more than a month following the funding allocation from New York state, she already anticipates unveiling her new shop on Exchange Street by the end of this month.

In preparation for her company’s kickoff, Gonzalez has worked diligently cleaning and clearing the space as well as painting and installing repurposed metal shelving which accentuates the weathered brick wall, among many other tasks before officially opening her doors for the very first time.

Gonzalez seeks to strengthen Waste Not’s bonds within the Geneva community by coordinating with strategic partners, especially Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

She has since expressed interest in collaborating with the campus food pantry and HWS Fribolin Farm to promote her environmentally-conscious messaging with college students.

But most of all, in her opinion, she “absolutely” seeks to set Waste Not as a partnering business with the Community Cash program offered through the student OneCard system, joining the local likes of Opus and Twisted Calzones in the process.

Additionally, Josh Decker, co-owner of Monaco’s Coffee and Waste Not’s commercial space has helped Gonzalez split a portion of the building between him and her, allowing Decker to roast fresh Monaco’s coffee for patrons.

Gonzalez explained that sharing the site between two businesses serves as a testament to her mission in finding and achieving sustainable measures as well as reduce the overconsumption of finite natural resources.

She also mentioned that the presence of Decker with Monaco’s Coffee aims to draw additional foot-traffic into the store itself and may even help heat the building during the winter months while the coffee roaster machine is actively running.

Gonzalez is most grateful for the “overwhelming amount of community support,” shown by residents, future customers and fellow businessowners alike.

“People are so warm to this idea. People are excited,” Gonzalez said.

She has even noted that other businessowners along Exchange Street have already supported her by donating their time and talents to help her set-up shop or simply expanding the message and mission Waste Not, not solely as a business but lifestyle and mindful mentality for the entire Finger Lakes community to contemplate and consider.

With an emphasis upon not solely sustainable products but also practices, Gonzalez routinely critically reflects upon her own business practices to ensure that they remain ethically and morally aligned along her environmental principles since creating the concept that would eventually succeed Mother Earth Natural Foods.

One example of this mentality on display was when Gonzalez shared that she spent hours removing stickers and tape from boxes that contained products and supplies for her new store. 

Once the tape and stickers were stripped, the boxes were then given to Closed Loop Systems, a local Geneva vermiculture business that decomposes the paper boxes.

Although she characterized that the process may seem “tedious and silly,” she believes in bringing Waste Not’s mindful mission to the forefront of each action taken by her business.

As for the statewide plastic bag ban, Waste Not intends to comply with the mandate by providing alternative choices, which includes the selling of reusable bags on-site as well as offering t-shirt bags that patrons may borrow while shopping inside the store after placing a deposit at the counter desk.

Soon enough, shoppers will be able to fill either a reusable or t-shirt bag with a wide array of food items including dried fruits, beans, nuts, tea, coffee and spices in bulk as well as personal care and cleaning products that are sustainably-friendly.


– Reporting & Photos by Gabriel Pietrorazio

An undergraduate student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Pietrorazio has written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut and Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, New York. He’s currently an intern reporter for FL1 News, and can be reached at gabriel@fingerlakes1.com.

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