Fairfax County soft-drink shoppers can find an extensive selection of flavors in returnable bottles at stores called Pop Shoppes. Since the county's ban on throwaways went into effect Sept. 1, the stores report a big upturn in sales.
A Canadian firm has several Pop Shoppes in Northern Virginia where 26 different regular and diet flavors are available in 10-ounce and quart bottles. They must be purchased by the case, either all one kind or mix-and-match.
The one-time charge for the carrying case and the 24 10-ounce bottles in its $4, which works out to a 15-cent deposit per bottle. The soda costs $2.98, which makes it considerably below the price of nationally advertised brands as well as cheaper than house brands.
According to Bob Heuver, who owns two of the shops, the company pays more for its bottles than anyone else in the industry because the bottles are better quality. The strength of the bottles, the way they are protected in the case and the 15-cent deposit give the company a much better re-use rate than the soft drink industry as a whole. The Pop Shoppes average about 30 uses per bottle; the industry; seven to nine.
Pop Shoppes will be opening in Montgomery County soon. A ban on throwaway goes in effect there on Jan. 1.