The Online Grocery Store Where Everything’s $3 or Less

July 12, 2017

I can't seem to stop hearing about Brandless, an online-only store that launched to the public yesterday. The store's catalog is split into six different categories—food, household supplies, beauty, personal care, home & office, and health—with a good number of the products being organic and fair-trade. And each item is $3.

That price point comes with a flat rate of $9 for shipping, and you’ll have to exceed $72 to qualify for free shipping. Brandless also launched with a $36-per-year membership program, and, if you partake, the free shipping threshold drops to $48. Shipping, I’m afraid, is limited to the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia.

The company’s been three years in the making, co-founded by Tina Sharkey, an alum of Johnson & Johnson, and Ido Leffler, the mind behind a number of Silicon Valley-based lifestyle and beauty consumer brands. During that trial period, Sharkey and Leffler spent time securing $50 million in funding, assembling a team, consulting with makers, subjecting each potential product to rigorous testing, and selecting what they’d stock in the store.

Better Everything. For Everyone. All $3. #brandlesslife

A post shared by Brandless (@brandlesslife) on

It's resulted in a digital pantry that’s over 200 items strong. Brandless has developed minimalist packaging for each product that emphasizes whether it’s non-GMO, organic, fair trade, what have you. The store's offerings range from the essential to the esoteric: quinoa puffs with jalapeño and cheddar flavoring, dish soaps with the perfume of balsamic greens and grapefruit, tricolor conchiglioni, whisks, notebooks.

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Sharkey and Leffler have, as they explain rather cogently on their site, circumvented the traditional retail distribution chain that makes products accrue what Brandless refers to as a “brand tax.” The store is egalitarian and democratic in spirit, bolstered by the belief that each person deserves access to the same goods at the same prices no matter their social standing.

A mission that's easy to embrace, to be sure. I'm curious to see how Brandless sustains this initial buzz and how it grows—the company seems to have carved out some space on its promotional blog for recipes, but the page is currently blank. What will live there? Who knows. Take a stroll through the store today.

Visit Brandless here. See anything that strikes your fancy? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jenna M.
    Jenna M.
  • Ellen
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  • MrsMehitabel
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Jenna M. July 18, 2017
I've obviously been living with my head in the sand because this is the first I'm hearing of Brandless. They owe you a commission, Mayukh ;) I just placed my order. Interested to see how the quality is. I'm interested to see how the company evolves too.
Ellen July 16, 2017
I saw this on Mind Body Green and I set up an account but have yet to buy anything. I know that such products as 'Saltine Crackers' that have the Grocery Store branding have in fact been Licensed from Nabisco. Brands are a cultural incentive, some people feel that if they buy the 'House Brand' they are being 'cheap' or will be seen as cannot afford to buy the 'better and true product' which is just ludicrous. Cornflakes are Cornflakes unless you believe that truly GMO Free Cornflakes exist. Hard to get away from the GMOs.
Anna July 13, 2017
I love the concept - and I realize that for many of you out there this is a nonissue (lucky you!) - but there isn't any manufacturing information about what facilities are used to process their foods - my son has severe food allergies and one reason we are brand loyal is that we've found specific brands that have allergy-friendly manufacturing processes in place so we can trust that their food (flour, for example) won't trigger a reaction in our son. If the powdered form of eggs (like merengue powder), dairy (like powdered milk), or nuts are processed in the same facility as, say, their flour, then that flour would cause a severe reaction in my son, so it's information I need - my favorite, trusted brands provide that sort of information online, detailing which foods are produced with other allergens and if production lines are cleaned and tested. I love that everything is organic, but I can't risk another hospital trip just for cheap organic food - I'm crossing my fingers that my email inquiry to the company regarding production practices will be returned with good news!
MrsMehitabel July 12, 2017
"The store is egalitarian and democratic in spirit, bolstered by the belief that each person deserves access to the same goods at the same prices no matter their social standing."

This comes across as kind of grandiose, but doesn't it remind you of IKEA? Cheap and uniform, but carried by really likeable design.

Having just moved to a rural area, this concept really appeals to me. I hope they have some more unusual items that the neighborhood grocery store doesn't carry. Trader Joe's does "cheap and gently unusual" very well.