Good Deeds Market
Today, with so many shopping options available, both brick and mortar as well as online, customers have the luxury of being choosier about which stores are on the receiving end of their hard-won money. No longer do shoppers simply want dish detergent or a perfect fall sweater—very many of them want dish detergent that is environmentally friendly, a sweater hand-knitted with homespun organic yarn from a free-range farm using socially conscious practices. We want meaning from our purchases, and to know that if they aren’t specifically “doing good,” then at least they aren’t harmful in any way.
And though shopping with social impact is a great option for the conscious consumer, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. After all, it’s not easy to decipher the origins, efficacy, or social impact of every item at any store. Even if you want to shop with purpose, doing so without a substantial amount of research every time you need a bar of soap or a jar of tomato sauce could seem prohibitively time-consuming.
Enter Good Deeds Market in Carpenter’s Square Mall on Perry Street in Cape May, a store that lives and breathes its social impact mission. Rather than just donating a portion of sales to a nonprofit or selling some ethically produced goods, Good Deeds Market is socially conscious on every level.
According to its website, Good Deeds Market is “a philanthropic retail company with a singular goal of supporting the community.”That may sum it up, but it’s so much more.
Founded in 2012 by the husband-and-wife team Greg and Jacki D’Amato, Good Deeds Market started out as GJ Project. A nonprofit, it supported causes near and dear to the D’Amatos, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease treatments via profits made from printing and shipping t-shirts out of their New York City apartment.
“We donated everything we made to honor those who are fighting, have fought, and who will fight someday,” says Jacki. “These efforts were a simple tangible act that we could do in seemingly difficult uncontrollable situations. We made a promise to ourselves a long time ago that we will never sit idly by watching those we love suffer without joining them in battle.”
The company was rebranded to Good Deeds in 2017, and then to Good Deeds Market in 2021, when the focus shifted from fundraising to selling zero-waste products. It was a natural progression for the D’Amatos as Covid changed the scope and nature of their business.
“We didn’t want to ask people to donate money when financial situations were so unknown and everyone’s focus had rightfully shifted to COVID-19,” says Jacki. “That’s when we realized we needed to find a new way to do good. We regularly walked the beaches looking for treasures and picking up trash, and it didn’t take long for us to recognize the significant negative impact humans were having on our oceans and on our world.”
With a new-found dedication to the planet, Jacki left her corporate job in 2021, and the D’Amato’s re-established their business—which was still online—as a zero-waste lifestyle store. And on April 22, 2023—Earth Day—the D’Amato’s opened their first storefront, which offers sustainable products as a way to reduce our community’s consumption of single-use plastic.
“The idea of zero-waste is an aspirational goal,” says Jacki. “There are so many opportunities to do better throughout our days and so we try to make changes as often as we find solutions.”
The D’Amatos recognize that while perfection is impossible, there are plenty of steps we can take as individuals and as a community to find solutions. One such habit? Shifting our consumer habits by shopping locally, making more sustainable choices, and buying organic whenever possible. These are incremental changes that lead to a cumulative good.
“Whenever we would run out of something, we would replace it with a more eco-friendly option,” says Jacki about their own transition to environmentally-conscious consumerism. “Throughout that process, we realized that these zero-waste products didn’t exist in our neighborhood and were difficult to find. That’s when we decided that we needed to make sustainability more accessible to our community.”
The products offered at Good Deeds Market reflect that goal. With a variety of personal care, home goods, and gifts—all of which are as reusable, refillable, compostable, biodegradable, and as plastic-free as possible, Good Deeds Market offers a one-stop shopping solution for conscientious purchasing. Some of their best-selling items include reusable silicone bowl covers, hand soap concentrates, vegan compostable tinted lip balms, and all-natural earth paints.
But it’s more than a store. Instead of just providing sustainably sourced products for purchase, Good Deeds Market is a hub of earth-friendliness. Not only does the business participate in a reforestation project, where they fund tree planting in areas of need (including Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, and more) for each item that they sell as proud partners of Ecologi and the Eden Reforestation Projects, but they have created a proactive, community-based program—the Plogging Club—in addition to hosting monthly beach cleanups.
“Our Good Deeds Plogging Club is an exclusive rewards program where our community joins us in the fight against plastic pollution as we Plog (jog and pick up litter) up and down the Cape May Coast,” says Jacki. “Members receive special discounts and giveaways for helping to clean up our planet.”
More than simply selling goods, Good Deeds Market brings the community together for a mutual cause, providing hands-on learning and opportunity to all ages, improving the environment, and helping to protect biodiversity. And with a store full of philanthropic retail options, they can also guide you to making your own home more environmentally sustainable.
“We encourage progress, not perfection. The most important thing to do when considering a more environmental approach to consumerism is to first use up whatever you already have,” says Jacki. “Once it’s out, that’s the time to consider something new. You can’t replace everything at once—it’s not realistic. Instead, change at a pace that works for you.”
“Before you know it, you’ll create sustainable habits that are second nature and have a home that produces a lot less waste.”