GENEVA, N.Y. (WROC) — Two years ago, we showed you the opening of The Waste Not Shop in Geneva. It’s a health food and product store that aims to reduce as much waste as possible. Costumers use their own recyclable and reusable containers to fill with dry goods and food.
But after weathering the pandemic, they had to ask the community for help with another problem they never saw coming; a notice of trademark infringement. And the community answered.
Marilla Gonzalez is a first time business owner and owner of The Waste Not Shop. She said today in a packed store they were prepared for anything in 2020, but “a global pandemic was not on the list.”
And with their low waste approach and small footprint, it meant the people of Geneva could come in with their own containers, and refill their dry goods, supplements, hygiene and other items safely.
“People realized that we have some really practical products,” Gonzalez said. “It was really encouraging to see how people supported us when it was so uncertain.”
Another silver lining: A renewed focus on marketing.
“Our marketing was so effective that is got us all the way to the west coast.,” she said with a laugh.
A low waste company in California caught wind of her store — whom Gonzalez does not want to name —sent a trademark infringement notice against ‘The Waste Not Shop’s’ name.
Rather than fighting the lawsuit, as Gonzalez says she understands that part of owning a trademark is policing it, she decided to take the high road.
“We have to change our name because ultimately we do want to support businesses like this, and we want to stay focused on our mission, and this is just not worth getting down in the mud with another business.
They launched a GoFundMe late last week to help them rebrand with a new yet-to-be-chosen name. Lawyer fees were out of the question, and this sum will help them legally change their business name, as well as rebrand and restock many items that currently have the “Waste Not” name.
But only days later, Bella’s Sicilian Ristorante down the road donated $4,000.
“It’s not fun when something you work so hard on and the dream dies,” said owner of Bella’s Dick Austin. “We felt a responsibility because Marilla is like family to us, it’s a woman-owned business, there are few and far between.
“It just felt like the right thing to do,” he said.
“Completely overwhelming and very humbling to see the support we received even in the first hour, let alone with the weekend that’s just gone by,” she said, as she was described the streams of happy tears as the first donations came rolling.
As of right now, Gonzalez has not decided on a new name.