HAMPTON-One local entrepreneur is promoting sustainable alternatives to patrons through the region’s first zero waste and refill shop.
Chris Simmonds first created the online sustainability shop Less Than in February 2020 during the height of the covid-19 pandemic. A few months later, he opened Less Than’s first zero waste and refill shop’s brick and mortar location in the Ghent section of Norfolk. The entrepreneur just added a fifth location to the mix within the Hilltop section of Virginia Beach over Mother’s Day weekend.
Simmonds celebrated the first anniversary of Less Than’s Peninsula storefront located in downtown Hampton on May 23. The chain offers sustainable alternatives for everyday goods that are healthy for customers’ use as well as the environment. The business sells eco-friendly products made from natural ingredients that are free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and crafted by environmentally-conscientious vendors.
“Everything on our retail side is packaged plastic-free, so what does come in packaging, can be recycled or is biodegradable,” said Simmonds. “We carry almost everything that would be on the non-food side of a grocery store, so household, pet, baby, cosmetic, and cleaning supplies.”
Less Than’s refill stations offer dry and liquid goods such as shampoo and conditioner, hand and dish soap, face and body lotion, laundry detergent and pods, cleaning solutions, toothpaste tablets, and candle refills. Customers are encouraged to bring in their own refillable containers or can purchase them on site.
Simmonds grew up in the Virgin Islands and was raised in a culture that promoted sustainability.
“I grew up resourcefully,” said Simmonds. “My grandmother would make jam from what was growing in her garden. We would reuse plastic bags, and just get the most out of things. I was born in Saint Thomas and there’s not the same amount of resources available on the islands as there are stateside.”
Once Simmonds moved out on his own, he said his diet changed.
“I found it really difficult to go to stores and shop in a way that aligned with my values and how I grew up,” said Simmonds. “I saw the need for people like myself to be able to be more intentional about what they purchase and bring into their home.”
The entrepreneur just rolled out a new concept named Ceremony, which he describes as the first dry bottle shop in Hampton Roads and Richmond.
“Basically, we curate non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits as well as sustainable bar-making equipment, accessories, and mixers,” he said.
Simmonds opened the first Ceremony location over Mother’s Day weekend within Painted Tree Boutiques in Virgnia Beach and intends to carry Ceremony products at all of the Less Than locations.
“When it comes to drinking, some people exclusively don’t drink, and while most people may drink intermittently, whether it’s the time of the day, or a particular occasion, there are really no options for people to intentionally make decisions to not drink alcohol,” said Simmonds. “We felt like there was a need to give people more options.”
He said that, while business has been steady, he hopes more people will be interested in making mindful shopping a habit.
“We’re on a mission to make sustainability more accessible,” said Simmonds. “We’re hoping more people will see that there are options in the Hampton Roads area that align with customers’ spending values.”
Less Than shops are located at 24 S. King St., Hampton; 803 Shirley Ave., Norfolk; 4378 Holland Plaza Shopping Center, Virginia Beach; and 1624 Laskin Rd., #748 Booth A8, Virginia Beach; and 1 N Lombardy St., Richmond.
Store hours are from 11am to 7pm Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday, with the exception of the 1624 Laskin Rd. location, which is open from 10am to 8pm daily. For more information, visit Less Than’s website or Facebook page.