Another inspiring innovation comes to us from Courtenay BC, where eco-conscious entrepreneurs Rebecca Wood and Cortney Upham run The Green Room, the humble city’s first all environmentally-friendly housewares and gift store. With organic bath and body products, non-toxic cleaning products, locally made giftware, reclaimed jewelry, recycled glassware and of course, bamboo towels and baby products, The Green Room certainly covers all bases when it comes to customer convenience and the source for all things green.
Having the chance to speak with Rebecca, it was no surprise to learn that both she and Cortney hopped on the eco-bandwagon early. “We were both starting to change our lifestyles by biking to work etc. in hopes of moving towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.” What inspired this change? Knowledge. Suddenly becoming aware of the incredible use of pesticides, the chemical production of cotton and other day-to-day products provided a jarring paradigm shift. “We just felt more at ease using earth-friendly and locally made products and especially knowing where things came from.”
Not being a big online shopper but noticing that the only source for eco-friendly purchasing was online, the duo got to work researching how best to meet the needs of the Courtenay community in an environmentally-friendly way. Like any business fighting the good fight, Rebecca and Cortney definitely faced their share of challenges at first. “There are a lot of limitations when you’re looking for products completely eco-friendly produced. Even within bamboo there are often complications with the processing.” Finally, on September 29th 2008, The Green Room opened.
The Green Room has created a very positive response so far, Rebecca tells me. Customers have even suggested or requested green products for the store to carry and the number of returning customers continues to increase. Getting costumers educated and spreading the word is their most important mandate says Rebecca, and it is also an effective means of marketing. “If we can get the customers educated and confident about the product, the trend will hopefully stick in Courtenay.”
Although, even with the positive responses The Green Room still faces challenges unique to its location. Rebecca observes that “people tend not to spend much on shopping in Courtenay. Consumerism or materialism is not an issue, it’s just not the lifestyle.” Moreover, the business faces less traffic due to its location just off the beaten main street path. However, being situated close to a bustling coffee shop, beautiful courtyard and busy market selling local BC products certainly helps The Green Room generate attention.
The Green Room’s story certainly acts as an inspiration to anyone looking to change the world starting with their own backyard. As a model for all small businesses, Rebecca and Cortney’s eco-friendly mandate is admirable not only for the products they offer but the for education they provide their customers.