Space housing Eco and the Flamingo is now available.

If ever there was a community where a “zero waste” store would work — bring your own containers, buy things in bulk, no plastic packaging, organic and recyclable goods — you’d think it would be progressive, ecologically-minded Evanston.

That’s what the owners of Eco and the Flamingo, who called their business “Evanston’s First Zero-Waste General Store,” thought.

But the store, which had its grand opening on Jan. 21, lasted only five months, shutting its doors on May 29.

Customers shopping on Grand Opening day in January.

“Business was so slow,” a store representative told Evanston Now, “that we’d suffer lower losses if we just closed it.”

Eco and the Flamingo had filled the vacant former Subway sandwich shop storefront at 1551 Sherman Ave. downtown.

As with so many other small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic did not help, pushing the grand opening back two months.

While the store tried mightily to build a customer base, with advertising and social media, “it was pretty obvious pretty fast,” the store rep said, that things weren’t going as well as planned.

The original Eco and the Flamingo, in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, remains open.

And, said the spokesperson, “we’re regrouping, and hope to try again somewhere else.”

But not Evanston.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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