Summer 2008
Green Mission, Green Success By Kristen Hains

Going Greenward

Cambridge, MA
Owners: Scott Walker and Simone Alpen

Scott Walker would like to help his customers embrace more green lifestyles. To that end, he does more than stock green products in his store, Greenward, in Cambridge, MA.

imageThe store offers on-site recycling options for compact fluorescent bulbs and computer-related waste. Walker also sends customers environmental information through email newsletters. He says that while the idea of being green may be cool now, it didn’t seem that way a year ago, when he and his wife, Simone Alpen, opened their store. “Also, while green may be cool in the popular press, that doesn’t guarantee that the average person is at that same place,” he says.

He sees Greenward as a steppingstone for consumers in adopting environmentally friendly lifestyles. “It is so important for people, especially here in the U.S., to make fundamental changes in the way they live their daily lives, and we want to make that seem as attractive and easy as possible,” he says.

Participating in events like the d2e trade fair, an event in Boston that brings people together to explore the ideas and principles behind sustainable living, helps Walker solidify his target audience. He defines that audience as people who are interested in reducing their environmental impact, while maintaining a preference for beautifully designed and functional products.

A former city planner, Walker and his wife were aware of a proliferation of modern green products, but didn’t know of one place where they could find them all. “So we decided to open one ourselves,” Walker says.

imageAt Greenward, customers will find what Walker and his wife label “eco-modern goods,” described as “always elegantly designed, attractive and functional.” The products must meet a set of standards laid out by Walker and his wife. “We look for products that are recycled, biodegradable, organic, made from sustainable materials, reusable instead of disposable, energy-efficient, or all of the above,” Walker says.

“Eco-modern goods” range from stationery to composting supplies, and everything in between. Strolling through the store, customers can find recycled handbags from Alchemy Goods, reusable shopping bags from Envirosax, and cardboard animal puzzles from Cardboard Safari.

Additionally, the store carries a selection of housewares, stationery (only recycled or tree-free varieties), jewelry, baby items, books, bags and accessories, cleaning products, and “anything else that we feel fits in with the mission and aesthetic of the store,” Walker says.

Research is a constant part of Walker’s job, particularly in finding new vendors. Though a lot of that happens on the Internet, the couple has also attended sessions of the New York International Gift Fair. Picking products for the store means a series of checks and balances. “There is no specific formula, and there are always tradeoffs to consider with almost any product… local and virgin materials versus imported and recycled, for example,” he says. “There are more and better eco-friendly products to choose from every day.”

Walker continues to define his customer base, and he knows that consumer education is key. “I try to stay as informed as possible on the latest environmental news, or at least to know who the authorities are on various topics,” he says. “People are certainly not afraid to ask questions, and I am always happy to discuss whatever a customer is concerned about and offer what advice or knowledge I have.”

Kristen Hains

Kristen Hains is a professional writer based in Traverse City, Michigan. A former retailer, she is now a regular contributor to Dance Retailer News magazine.

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