As the wave of vegan lovers starts to spread throughout the city, it only makes since to have a bigger selection of vegan-welcoming locations. Places like the Common Market, Luna’s Living Kitchen, The Diamond and ZiZi’s Vegetarian Restaurant offer vegetarian and vegan options that people are going bananas for, but what about a store with other things besides food?
Just recently a vegan one-stop-shop opened in the neighborhood of Plaza Midwood called Eco-licious. “We are an environmentally friendly, cruelty-free store with all locally made products,” says storeowner Marley Claridge.
Claridge has been vegetarian since she was 12 years old and made the complete transformation into vegan about eight years ago. Roommate and business partner, Fiona Humphrey, is vegetarian but chooses not to eat dairy and meat products.
“I’m from Charlotte and it’s not a very vegan-friendly city. Just recently, people have started getting into it. It's nearly impossible to get anything — at least it had been. It has been something I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted to bring the ‘veganness’ to the community. We feel like there is a stigma against vegan products so that is why we went with cruelty-free,” says Claridge.
Cruelty-free means there are no animal products or products that have been tested on animals. Sorry, but you won’t find any leather, silk, wool and obviously no dairy or meat here. As you reach for the door handle, you’ll notice a sign saying there are no shopping bags either. A lot of stores now are transitioning to reusable bags, but Eco-licious hasn’t taken the leap yet. Instead when you check out, you’re given a recycled gift bag, which comes in handy when you’re shopping for someone else.
The cottage-like store is very welcoming when you first walk in. Set up like a small boutique, you feel right at home with the amazing smells, red comfy couch and feel-good tunes playing at all times. The rooms seem never-ending — Claridge explains there are a couple in the back that are empty, but not for long. “I’m trying to get friends to do stuff in the back extra space. We’ve actually got a massage therapist moving into the back. She does all sorts of meditation,” she says. “Another room, some friends of ours are talking about renting out to start up an art gallery.”
Eco-licious also plans to start providing a variety of classes in the back for people in the neighborhood. “I wanted people to be able to come in and be comfortable. I think my No. 1 reason to do this is to provide a nice place for the community to come together,” says Claridge.
Soy candles are one of the most popular items in the store and made right down the street by Pam Mahaffey. Forget buying candles at Walmart or Target for $15, these are almost half at $8 for the same size. To encourage recycling Mahaffey rewards the store $1 off coupons for every jar that is returned. Eco-licious gives the coupons to customers who return them so their next candle purchase is even less.
Green Toys are another growing fad. The classic kids toys like sand buckets and shovels, trucks and frisbees are made out of recyclable materials with the main ingredient being milk jugs.
Who doesn’t love cute little knickknacks to have around the house? Monkey and Squirrel items made by local crafter, Jenn Pierce, are cute and handy. You can find cast iron hooks, wall hangings and bottle openers in different shapes like animals, shells, and plants. They are painted in a variety of pastel colors, including white and baby blue.
Eco-licious carries a line of HOMS products that are made in North Carolina. “The are all non-toxic and FDA approved,” says Claridge. The non-toxic mosquito spray could come in handy when the typical accident of spraying yourself in the mouth happens. Other products available are sprays that kill aunts, roaches and those pesky weeds.
Even though Eco-licious has been open since July 15, the grand opening is being held this coming Saturday, July 30. They are hosting this month’s FROCK SHOP trunk show and having food catered by Fatty Dog Bake Shop. “We’ve got a whole bunch of friends playing music, anything from jazz guitar to echolalia. The last performance is The Dirty Special and they rock it out, so it will be progressing till the end,” says Claridge. The event starts at noon and will continue through the night until 10 p.m.
1916 Commonwealth Ave.
Charlotte, NC 28205