Maybe it doesn’t sound like good sense to open a new store in the middle of a global health crisis that’s also been economically devastating. But in 2020, stranger things have happened.

South Philly residents Emily Rodia and Jason Rusnock, both 31, decided to push forward with their pre-pandemic plan to launch Good Buy Supply, a new shop dedicated to reducing waste and improving the environment.

“Opening a sustainable shop has always been a dream of ours,” said Rodia, adding that their early March hunt for retail spaces was halted by the coronavirus lockdown.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, new enterprises have surged this year. There was a nationwide spike in new business applications, Keystone Crossroads reported, as folks affected by pandemic layoffs turned to entrepreneurship for potential new income.

At the same time, shutdowns and restrictions have left many pre-existing operations flailing. Scores of closures and GoFundMe campaigns to keep beloved brands alive now scar Philadelphia’s small business landscape.

So far, Good Buy Supply has gotten a strong reception, possibly because it’s filling a previously empty niche.

The shop sells environmentally friendly options for everyday life. Nearby storefronts like Juju Salon and Essene Market stock some similar sustainable goods.

Rodia and Rusnock, an engaged couple both originally from New Jersey, said they went plastic-free and low waste a few years ago, but felt Philly lacked places to stock up on supplies.

“Many products are brands that we have been personally using for many years,” Rodia said.

A former general manager for Art in the Age in Old City, Rodia made the shop her full-time gig, while Rusnock still also operates his freelance photography business.

When doors opened on Small Business Saturday, personal care products were best-sellers, Rodia said, like a bamboo toothbrush ($6), and “Butter + Lye” shampoo ($8). There are locally-made items from Remark Glass, The Kitchen Garden and Vellum St. Soap. The brick-and-mortar space also offers a bulk bar, with hand soap and laundry detergent sold by the ounce.

Located at 1737 East Passyunk Ave., Good Buy took over the space with a corrugated metal facade that formerly housed Analog Watch Co. and Fabric Horse before that. The store is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays through 4 p.m.

Many products are also available in an online store, which offers plastic-free shipping and handling, often by reusing the paper packaging sent by its vendors, per Rodia.

“We have lived in the neighborhood for quite some time and are very excited to bring a store like this to the area,” Rodia said. “Both of us live a low-waste lifestyle and saw the need for something like this in South Philly.”

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Layla A. Jones

Layla A. Jones (she/her) was a general assignment reporter for Billy Penn from 2019 to 2021. Her work has helped underserved community organizations, earned free repairs for property owners who sustained...