With four locations across Canada and now one in San Antonio, Texas, P’lovers Environmental Store is truly a haven for advocates of sustainable living. With the variety found in this one-stop-shop for all things eco-friendly, it’s easy to see why P’lovers is best described as the “environmental department store.”
Founders Liz Crocker and Ann Caverzan both have decades’ worth involvement with business and interest in environmental concerns and their relationship to commercial production. The two first met in 1991, and discussed the concept of a store specializing in environmentally friendly products at a time when such things were fairly unheard of. A year later they opened a shop by the name of P’lovers, which is an abbreviation for both “planet lovers” and “piping plover” (an endangered species of bird indigenous to Nova Scotia). Like the world around them, they still knew little of ecologically conscious wares. They have learned an immeasurable amount since and continue to do so still.
The breadth and quality of offered products is constantly being improved as more variety and a higher calibre goods become available in tandem with the ever increasing prevalence of environmental awareness. At the same time, if a product becomes overly mainstream or out of date, Liz and Ann search out goods that fall closer in line with the most current sustainable standards.
Of course, such a search can be tough, as increased interest in green goods come at a cost. Popularity entices, and many manufacturers appropriate the term “green” as a marketing tool and exploit ecologically-minded sentiments by offering products that are not truly or fully environmentally friendly. Not only do these not meet P’lovers standards, but they can also provoke a certain cynicism of the market in the consumer who is clued in enough to realise what is going on.
P’lovers have a mandate to practice what they preach, and all aspects of their business in green. This includes the very architecture and décor of their stores. Cork and bamboo flooring, recycled paint, compact fluorescent and LED lights, and antique furniture are all mainstays in each location. Yet despite demand for quality and adherence to strict criteria, the company is committed providing products that are not exuberantly priced. Two of their five locations are in Nova Scotia, which is economically modest. In the 90s when the business first started, there was a lot of sickening pollution in the air carried by wind from Ontario to the Maritimes which created a demand for goods free of such chemicals. Sensitive to that, the company has strived to maintain an affordable range.
One of the most unique aspects of P’lovers, I noticed, was the care taken to avoid any snobbery or judgemental attitudes in the sale of their wares. “We’re not just preaching to the choir, but we want to be appealing to the “non-choir” too.” says Liz. The business attempts to educate its potential customer base without pushing products and attitudes upon them. They avoid marketing items that primarily appeal as novelty gifts, instead opting for a department store model where goods are not only desirable but useful and practical and can also make great gifts. It is clear that P’lovers has accomplished its goal in providing a wide range of alternative products to the general public and not just to special interest groups www.plovers.net