Husband wife team Jason and Jayvee Varela planned on opening their water store in the Southland Plaza this past August but with the complication of the pandemic it took a bit longer. The store called HydroCharge, opened Oct.1, offers purified and alkaline water through reverse osmosis.
The duo updated the store on their own. “We installed the flooring, the shelving, pipes… we put our own sweat and tears in it to save money. We both work full time,” said Jayvee Varela.
Varela is a vocational nurse and account analyst at a Sharp Hospital and her husband works at a California Coast Credit Union. They work in the store themselves and take turns manning it.
HydroCharge’s water goes through a system with 11 steps of purification before it’s available to its customers. Varela explained that tap water, which is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, still contains some lead and chlorine in it. “We step in and use reverse osmosis so more people can have clean drinking water,” she said.
Customers can sample the water available at the store and Varela can do a pH test right in front of them.
She said she was inspired to open a water store because her sister also owns one in Chula Vista since 2016. “With the value of water and how important it is for human life it is one of the best businesses out there,” she said.
Varela points out the benefits of refilling bottles rather than purchasing new ones all the time, since Americans throw away billions of water bottles a year. By buying water at the store customers also save money on CRV fee. HydroCharge has two refill stations outside the store for customers who come in after hours or don’t want to go inside because of the pandemic. The refill stations inside are convenient and also offer the option to disinfect the bottles before refilling them for free with the ozone bottle rinse. All refills are self serve but Varela can assist customers who need help.
The equipment room has a see-through barn door so customers can see how the process works.
Bottles of all sizes are also available for purchase at the store as well as racks, so if customers want to refill many large bottles at once they can store them in their garage or home. Carts are also available for use to carry water bottles to cars. HydroCharge offers free refills with a purchase of a bottle.
Varela explained the difference between the two types of water sold at her store. Purified water removes contaminants but also minerals while alkaline water retains minerals. HydroCharge alkaline water is $1 per gallon and purified is 25 cents per gallon.
Varela said her customers are residents of the area as well as employees of the nearby shops who come in daily to refill their personal water bottles they drink while at work.
The store also offers water related products such as water bottles of different sizes - from personal size to 3 and 5 gallons - spouts for 5 gallon bottles for easy dispensing, some BPA free bottles, bottle caps and soon glass bottles.
Varela said the benefit of owning a store is the interaction she has with her customers. “Having that encounter when the customers come in… I like to be personable, know their names, it’s not just to make money but having a relationship with customers…we have superb customer service,” she said.
HydroCharge, 695 Saturn Blvd. Suite D. Call (619) 400-3068. Hours: Mon-Fri. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and major holidays closed. Vending machines are available 24/7.