Dave’s Marketplace, Rhode Island’s largest independent supermarket chain, has taken an unprecedented lead regionally and nationally in eco-friendly shopping. The locally owned and operated business, which has nine locations statewide and an ever-growing customer following, has recently made major investments in its stores, all with an eye towards saving energy and preserving our environment.
New at the Market
It all started with conversations with local energy leaders. “We initiated conversations with National Grid, looking for innovative ways to save energy in our markets,” says Director of Store Development Bob Fabiano. “One of the first initiatives was changing our light bulbs.” Like most large stores, Dave’s Marketplace was mostly using fluorescent bulbs throughout their buildings. “We tested bulbs for two years,” Bob says, explaining the sheer scope of the environmentally forward switch to LED lighting. They eventually found the perfect bulbs at Icon International, a commercial lighting business based out of Quonset. “When possible, we always try to work with local businesses,” Bob says. Today, all nine locations use LED bulbs throughout the aisles and refrigerated cases. The switch had an immediate effect on energy consumption. Cutting the number of bulbs used in half, the average wattage was dramatically reduced by 75%. “The energy saved is immense,” Bob echoes.
Another forward-thinking undertaking, retrofitting open-air refrigerated cases with doors, started to roll out in early 2015. By late summer markets in East Greenwich, Quonset, Wickford and Smithfield Crossings were already complete, with the remaining five projected to be finished in 2016. By putting the majority of refrigerated produce, deli meats and dairy behind tightly fitted doors, Dave’s is able to save an additional 35% in energy costs. Not only does that allow the market to pass along the savings to its customers, it also creates a better shopping experience.
“Customers keep telling us how much warmer it is in our stores,” Bob says. In return the products – everything from celery and bagged lettuce to milk and cheese – are staying cooler, producing ultra fresh food with a longer product life. Dave’s is one of the first markets in the country to retrofit their cases, and has been recognized in trade journals for their progressive sustainability efforts.
Each Dave’s has a fully functioning kitchen, cooking and baking all of the delicious prepared foods the marketplace is known for right onsite. What you might not know, however, is that all of the vegetable oil that’s used in-store is recycled and turned into diesel fuel. Newport Biodiesel, another local green leader that Dave’s has partnered with, converts the kitchens’ waste oil into clean burning fuel that is used in diesel engines and home heating furnaces.
While recycling reciprocals are available for customers at the seated eating areas and at the front of the store, Dave’s also practices what it preaches. “We recycle every cardboard box that comes through our doors,” Bob says. A few years ago, Dave’s began offering their weekly fliers via email. Customers preferred the convenience, leading the market to cut back on their printing by 65%. “All of these individual efforts make a real impact,” Bob says. “We’re just doing our part to make sure our environment is still intact for our children, our grandchildren.”
The Power of Local
Good, old-fashioned values are at the core of every Dave’s Marketplace. Quality food and products, charming store layouts and exceptional customer service create a uniquely Rhode Island shopping experience. But what really sets Dave’s apart is its commitment to our local community. Way before it became a trend, Dave’s stocked unknown Rhode Island food purveyors on their shelves and sourced their meat and produce from local farms. Today, the store offers upwards of 100 items that are produced right here in the Ocean State. This, too, helps to protect the environment, as it cuts back on the fuel and energy required to transport food.
Dave’s even raises the bar on the ubiquitous reusable shopping bag. At Dave’s, customers can purchase affordable sturdy bags that also celebrate the community. The custom bags, which have become so popular that they are becoming collector’s items, illustrate iconic home state landmarks. Recent editions include the PawSox, Providence College, University of Rhode Island and the Narragansett Towers. “Our customers are proud of where they shop,” Bob says. By embracing the local food movement and pioneering creative green solutions, Dave’s Marketplace is a Rhody institution we can all be proud of.