For sustainability minded shoppers, Terra Madre is a dream. Its rows upon rows of organic produce, bulk dry goods, fair-trade confections and free-range proteins have been pulling a crowd on High Street in Northcote for decades.
But the sheer mass of products has made it hard for shoppers to navigate the labyrinthine space – especially as its popularity and customer base have grown. Even after several expansions, it’s a one-way situation where minimal lingering is an unspoken rule.
That’s why Terra Madre’s new Brunswick grocer is such a godsend. Since opening officially on the first day of lockdown 4.0, after being in the pipeline for two years, the Sydney Road spot has been catering to the masses. Comfortably. “It’s a lot larger than Northcote,” says co-owner Ryan O’Connor. “I guess you could say it’s more Covid-friendly.”
“It’s so much easier to work with, too,” he adds. “For customers, it’s easier for them to shop, see what products we have and get around. And for us, well, I can literally drive the forklift into the shop to restock or bring in pallets, which I obviously can’t do [in Northcote].”
While the original store is full of nooks and crannies – part of what makes it so charming – its Brunswick sibling is one large open space. Fridges, freezers and baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables line the warehouse’s perimeter and there are several aisles in the centre, each wide enough for you to pass your fellow shoppers without bumping elbows. Plus, there are conveyer belts at the counters to make checking out even quicker.
The shelves are lined with all sorts of oils and vinegars, jars of nut butters and jams, stone-ground chocolates, natural toothpastes, sulphate-free shampoos, and more. But there are also bulk dry-goods bins all over the place. “The main point of difference at Brunswick is a heavier focus on bulk,” says O’Connor. “There are more bins and larger product sizes.”
For each bin of a staple item such as muesli, almonds or lentils in Northcote, there are generally at least two in Brunswick. And in addition to the standard 400-gram tins of legumes, here you’ll find commercial-sized options weighing in at a whopping five kilograms. There are more additions to come, too, including bulk liquid products (expect soaps, detergents and laundry liquids) in a week or two.
If you’re entering from Sydney Road, splashes of burnt orange, yellow and green mark the spot. But if you’re approaching from the back there’ll soon be a private car park. (For anyone who’s ever tried to find a park near the Northcote store or navigate public transport with a tote full of bulk beans, it’ll be a relief.)
“It’ll be really handy for a lot of people,” O’Connor says.
Terra Madre is open during Melbourne’s lockdown.
775 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Melbourne is currently in lockdown. Masks are mandated in public spaces, public gatherings are banned and minimal social contact is recommended. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, check out the latest updates from the Department of Health and Human Services.