Fall 2012
Lessons Learned By Sharon Naylor

Chicago’s Classy Operation

Greenheart Shop in Chicago is an eco-conscious fair trade shop launched by the non-profit Center for Cultural Interchange to further its philosophies of promoting cultural understanding and environmental consciousness. The shop offers the best in fair trade products, while educating the community through in-store events.

“Our classes extend the global community message, and draw in the community for education and involvement with our products,” says Sarah Griffis, Web & Development Assistant for Greenheart Shop & Center for Cultural Interchange.

For instance, Greenheart Shop recently hosted an olive oil tasting class, which attracted daily shoppers and around 25 hands-on participants. “The educational aspect of our products is important to share,” says Griffis. “I never knew that the different trees on which the olives grew affected the taste of olive oil so vastly.” Greenheart brought in a company called Canaan Fair Trade, an organization selling organic olive oils from over 1,700 growers in Palestine. The tasting introduced attendees to four different kinds of olive oils all carried in-store. The oils were served with breads for dipping and the demonstration also educated attendees about taste pairings—which olive oil to serve with sweeter tomatoes, and which to serve with saltier items such as olives. Greenheart offered a 20% discount on featured olive oils and specials on other flavored olive oils.

The shop has also hosted green beauty events—such as a class featuring products from a local honey supplier, demonstrating how organic and fair trade honey can be used in body lotions, scrubs and lip balms. Greenheart invited several local green bloggers to participate in the event, which showcased the store’s honey-based bath and body products. Greenheart used social media to promote our event. “Anyone who shared the blog post about our class via Facebook shares or Tweets was entered into our green, honey-based beauty product giveaway,” Griffis says.

Another popular offering was an after-hours class on cooking with tagines, the Moroccan cooking implement used to create flavorful stews and other delicacies. “We have a kitchen in the back, which we usually use for displaying edible products, so we held this class in there at a big table, with our store products on display all around.” This event, attended by about 30 customers, was also featured on the store’s blog.

Classes don’t have to be limited to in-store venues. Greenheart posts DIY projects on its blog as well. A do-it-yourself terrarium project, as well as lessons on how to wear a bracelet five different ways, was a big hit.

Other classes include a Sobremesa (tabletop) launch with a green designer demonstrating housewares and home décor trends; and a green wedding blogger-led class on planning eco-friendly weddings. This class complements the shop’s new wedding registry.

Sharon Naylor

Naylor is the author of 30 wedding books, including Your Special Wedding Vows and Your Special Wedding Toasts.SharonNaylor.net

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