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Many retailers fi nd strong benefi ts from being more green: They save money
and create a healthy environment for their employees.
Ann Bartz, program manager of Business Alliance for credentials the building would need to be built in order
Local Living Economies, says the organization encourages to qualify,” Larsen says, using the U.S. Green Building
locally-owned and independent retailers to work with Council’s rating system as an analogy. “It’s the same
each other and the larger community, and to focus on process for a retailer. Check out what criteria we look for
specifi c projects or programs that help. She cites instituting in a business to become a member and start incorporating
a community recycling program as a good example. “By those criteria into your business.”
working with other retailers and businesses, communities
Intangible goods, green benefi ts?
can share the cost of a recycling truck to come pick up
As you know, many retailers fi nd strong benefi ts from
recyclables weekly,” Bartz says. BALLE has many networks
being more green: They save money and create a healthy
across the country including Local First in Chicago and
environment for their employees.
Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, WA.
Because of the initial expense, it took several years
Walk the walk for Hart to convince her partner, Cecilia Hardacker, to
Needless to say, you need more than membership in a convert all of the light bulbs in their lighting showroom to
socially conscious organization to really establish your more energy-effi cient compact fl uorescent light bulbs. But
credentials. Jim Holland, founder and president of retailer Hardacker’s fi rst electric bill after the change convinced her
Eco-Wise in Austin, TX, recommends retailers look across that this decision was good not only for the environment
the board in building a strong, green store image: Participate but also for the store’s bottom line.
in as many local events as possible to show your support to “Our electricity bill dropped by half and we haven’t even
the community. “Be at the Earth Day events, the farmers’ changed all the bulbs,” says Hardacker. “I thought it was
markets, save the creek, or whatever your community is a mistake. We saved $1,500 that month.” She recognizes
hosting that fi ts within your mission,” Holland advises. that most independent retailers won’t see that level of
“Be a part of events that you believe in and customers will savings since they probably don’t have hundreds of lamps
recognize you and know you really support what it means in their store, but every store or showroom does have lights
to be a green retailer.” and savings can be had while doing good for the earth. “It’s
Hart and Holland both agree that being true to yourself
not a joke. Even if a retailer saves $300-400 a year, that’s
is one of the most important things you can do as a green
nothing to sneeze at. It’s substantial savings.”
retailer and your customers will notice this. Holland says he
Larsen notes that green businesses are doing well
and his employees live green on a daily basis. Employees
fi nancially. “Our membership grew from 3,500 members
who work at Eco-Wise drive hybrids or bike to work, to over 4,500 in one year,” Larsen says. “Green businesses
wear eco-friendly shoes and are conscious consumers are not only growing, they’re thriving.”
Holland says that education is part of being a green retailer
Megy Karydes is a professional writer and president of marketing/
and he stresses that green retailers be knowledgeable about
public relations consulting fi rm Karydes Consulting. She
their products and services. “If they want to be known for
specializes in the gift and home industry. You can reach her by
something, they need to know it better than anyone else,”
Holland says. “If you’re focusing on green apparel, you
need to know what makes it green. You need to be an
Article Resources
expert so you can educate others on why green products Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
are important to them and the environment.”
415.255.1108 
Both Hart and Holland have also developed a list of cri-
CoOp America
teria that they use to evaluate the products they carry in
their store. Products Hart considers must meet at least two
Green America
of the following four criteria: be sustainable, fairly traded, 800.584.7336 
eco-friendly and have good design and functionality. Hol-
land’s checklist writes off any products made using ani-
Austin, TX
mals or tested on animals.
512.326.4474 
What else can you do? Larsen encourages retailers who
are interested in becoming green (or more green) to check
Two Fish Art Glass
out Green America’s application as an early step in the
Forest Park, IL
process. “If you were interested in building a new structure 708.366.6800  twofi
and wanted to get it LEED Certifi ed, you’d check what
Spring 2009 ■ GIFT SHOP 120
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