impetus for many artists. It was lunch that provided the inspiration for Bryan Parks, with Kwytza Chopstick Art in Eugene, OR. While living in China some years ago, Parks was eating with chopsticks every day. “I would see them littered all over the streets and became aware of what a wasteful habit it was,” he says. “Eventually, I got this idea to see if I could actually make stuff with them. So I started the whole process of collecting chopsticks, sanitizing them and coming up with some cool designs.” He began selling his designs in 2004—things like folding baskets, trivets, table lamps and handbags. Parks uses bamboo chopsticks in natural and chocolate colors and says he’ll be introducing some new col- ors this summer.
JUNK MAIL GEMS
Beyond green As great as the green message is, vendors are finding that it alone is not enough to sell a product. English Retreads, for one, has found that looks matter too. “Even in this climate women are much more focused on if the bag looks good, or if it’s useful and if it holds everything they need it to,” Salomon says. “I think we still have a long way to go in terms of educating consumers to the point where the fact that it’s made of reclaimed material or in a sustainable manner is as important as these other considerations,” she says. Gregson has noticed a similar trend.
“It occurs to me that people are starting to look at recycled products with more of a discerning eye for not only does it have a really unique quality about it, but is it fun and different,” he says. Retailer Jennifer Branham agrees.
Branham owns Natural Luxe, a green store in Charlotte, NC. “We have noticed that an item being ‘green’ or recycled is an added benefit to the customer—they love to hear the story, but the item has to be stylish and affordable [first],” she says.
including watches, bracelets, rings, cufflinks and earrings. The desire to not waste anything and to keep materials out of landfills is the
100 Fall 2010 n GREENRetailer
Education essential Building the case for consumers to purchase items made from recycled materials and created in sustainable ways requires education and, say those in the industry, enthusiasm and excitement about the products themselves. In some cases the nature of the materials used in
the product is obvious—Gregson’s “Fish Out of Water” designs made from road signs, for instance. In others—English Retread’s bags—it may not be immediately obvious. This is where education and creative merchandising come into play. Signage is an obvious solution for
educating consumers about green products, but it’s a solution that “is a big thing,” says Jurgens. “That’s what we always recommend to clients in addition to the education of the staff,” she says. Staff members need to be knowledgeable about the products and to do sufficient research, she says.
TOKENS AND ICONS
Gia LaRussa is the marketing director for The G2 Gallery in Venice, CA. G2 operates a thriving gift shop that exclusively sells products that in some way represent the gallery’s eco-friendly mission, she says. “Products selected for the gift shop are artisanal, designer crafted and made in America. Not all the items the gift shop carries come from recycled materials, but some of the most popular items do.” Two of the most in-demand products
currently on display in the gift shop are Ella Vickers recycled sailcloth bags and Verabel jewelry, made from vintage lockets. “Both of these products are green
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