TOMO – the first circular department store in the world

Earlier this year, the Netherlands gained bragging rights to being the first country in the world with a circular department store: TOMO, short for Tomorrow, in Westfield Mall of the Netherlands in Leidschendam. The 1000 square meter department store offers everything, from clothing to skincare to cleaning supplies. What makes TOMO different from other retail chains is that it offers not just sustainable but circular products.

What are circular products?
Circular products are those that operate within the circular economy model. For the longest of times, humans have lived with the take-make-dispose mentality. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of the United Nations, the world has finally woken up to the fact that our current way of living is not sustainable, but is in fact accelerating the death of our planet.

Circular economy takes its learnings from nature; where there is no landfill and nothing is ever wasted. Things grow, things get eaten, things die and return to the soil safely. The aim of a circular economy is to introduce the same cyclicality in our production-consumption cycle: replace the take-make-waste economy with source responsibly-make-use-return-refurbish/recycle/renew-reuse.

While there are plenty of brands that offer sustainable products, there aren’t many places where you can physically try or even see them before buying – most of these products are sold online. When it comes to preloved clothes, there are not many physical stores; most of the business is conducted via apps and websites. It often leaves the consumers, especially those new to circular consumption, quite overwhelmed due to the availability of so many options. Many find the whole ordeal too stressful and time-consuming and call it quits even before they have begun.

TOMO is bridging the gap between the customers and the sustainable products, making sustainable shopping the new normal. It is not just a department store but an experience centre, making a point that recycled doesn’t mean shabby and vintage doesn’t mean old. An eco-friendly liquid cleaner can smell and work as good, if not better than the one riddled with harmful chemicals. The store is designed tastefully, giving the customers time and space to enjoy and sample these products. The staff is very knowledgeable and the store is transparent about the origin of the products and the manufacturing processes. While TOMO is representing its house brand, it has also given home to plenty of other sustainable names. It offers everything from skincare, bath products, home décor and even some clothing.

TOMO is the brainchild of founder and CEO Marjan Haselhoff, who wants to give people a sustainable alternative to fashion, and hopefully make an end to fast fashion. Buy beautiful things and contribute to making the world a better place at the same time. When it comes to clothing, you can expect to find some tasteful yet trendy things here, but they also carry a price tag to match. This is where the store offers its most unique service. If you do not want to buy a dress fearing you will only get to wear it once, you can rent it! If you do end up buying clothes here, you get free repairs for up to 5 years from the date of purchase. And if you have clothes that you don’t wear anymore, TOMO will happily take them off your hands and recycle them responsibly.

TOMO plans on opening several other stores around the Netherlands and eventually an online store as well. Whether you end up buying anything or not, the store is well worth a visit even just for inspiration.

Written by Priyanka Sharma