Category Archives: Retailers

BUY LOCAL Network Kicks Off!

Earth Day, April 22nd, brought with it an exciting announcement from the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council:  the Buy Local Network for all businesses in Fayette County is now officially operating! Bob Junk and Jessica Steimer of Fay-Penn, and Val J. Laub of the Herald Standard, presented the material at an outdoor press conference in Connellsville’s Yough Park.

The program unites local, independently-owned businesses of varying types and sizes in an overarching network of discounts and incentives to encourage customers to choose local stores over generic, big-box chains.  “This is a new approach to an old concept of one another in the community supporting local businesses,” Laub said.

Buying in the neighborhood recirculates community dollars three-fold, and often supports agriculture and manufacturing in the region as opposed to halfway around the world.  That’s a heck of a carbon footprint reduction for each dollar spent.

Customers present a Buy Local card at participating businesses, in order to receive product discounts and the chance to enter monthly raffles to win goods from Buy Local Network businesses.

To join the network, businesses commit to these discounts (upwards of $25) while also donating monthly to a community reinvestment fund (upwards of $10); community groups can then apply for this funding through any business involved in the Buy Local Network.

Fay-Penn covers promotions, advertising, and card distribution – a business simply has to buy-in, put up the Buy Local window cling, and begin accepting card-bearing customers!

As with any network, its strength is in the number of businesses engaged. If you’re considering how to connect with your community in a multitude of ways, joining this program is an effective move.

Already 60 + businesses are engaged and thousands of cards distributed.  Fay-Penn works closely with the Herald Standard to circulate Buy Local announcements and updates.

Contact jessicas@faypenn.org to find out more about joining the network.  A possibility for the network to extend into other counties may exist in the future, so stay tuned if your business lies outside of Fayette County…

Click here for a full article highlighting the program.

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Filed under Buy Local, In the News, Local Food, Restaurants, Retailers

Money *Might* Grow on Trees

Attract More Business With Some Natural Landscaping

With the tangible advance of spring, the ground begins to thaw and gardeners young and old are digging around in the dirt, anxious to begin the growing season.  Business owners may want to engage their inner-gardeners as well, because studies repeatedly show that tree-lined, flower-studded sidewalks and storefronts attract more customers and keep them around longer.

If a vacant lot borders your property, you might also consider sprucing it up with simple raised flower beds, perennial wildflower seeds, a hedge row, a small tree and a simple wooden bench, or a couple large planters.

Explore the following resources to determine which trees, flowers, and shrubs are appropriate for your store.

Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest. Discussion of native trees and care in an urban setting.

Yellow Pages Site of Nurseries in Connellsville. List of nurseries of where to purchase or call for advice.  Change the search location as needed.

PA Trees. How to choose the right tree.

Sustainable and Urban Gardening. All-Native Lawnless Gardens for Pennsylvania.

Please feel free to share similar resources as well as good nurseries in your area.

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Filed under 1, Business, Retailers

Just our (Irish) luck! A Perfect Holiday to Advertise Your “Green-ness”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

Bless our hearts, there is at least one day a year when everyone wants to celebrate all that is green!  St. Patrick was a saint in the 5th century who used a (green) shamrock to explain the trinity in his religious teachings.  And due to the lush landscape of the Emerald Isles and Ireland’s beautiful natural scenery, green became synonymous with Ireland, eventually representing an immigrant Irish voting block (the Green Party) that U.S. political candidates attempted to win over in American elections starting in the 1850’s.

Why mention the history of this festive occasion?  Before you kick back with a strong stout at your favorite pub, break Lent for the afternoon, or attend your local parade, it’s worth considering the symbolism and meaning behind the color green. 

Any day of the year, what does it mean to be green?  How can a business re-invigorate this color to stand for firm commitments and market choices, without falling prey to the “greenwashing” trend overtaking the commercial world?

In 2004, Office Depot used this holiday to introduce a number of new “green” products to its stores, improving its website with recycling tips for the home and office, and clearly labeling the recycled content of its stock.

And this year, the Sierra Club offers a suggestion (to bars as well as to individuals) that “green brews” are available – enjoying local microbrews reduces energy burned on shipping and oftentimes organic beers match their competition in flavor and price. 

Have any nifty marketing tips to rake in the Leprechaun gold??  That is, will your business celebrate the holiday by providing discounts or deals for customers who support your green efforts in some way? 

Or maybe you can use this holiday simply as an excuse to talk about the conservation efforts of your business, for all the town to see, like a rainbow in the sky…

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Filed under Business, Buy Local, Creative re-use, In the News, Restaurants, Retailers

Getting ready for higher fuel costs: Walmart ahead of the curve

“We need to get ready for a world in which energy will only be more expensive, and there will only be a greater need to operate with less carbon in the supply chain.”

Ah, another quote about the upcoming environmental apocalypse!  Tighten your belt in solemn preparation for a world weaned of cheap oil.  As if a business in this economy doesn’t have enough to worry about!

But to put an interesting spin on the issue, what would you say if we told you that’s what Mike Duke, the president of Walmart, had to say to explain a noteworthy turn in Walmart’s marketing plan?  The company intends to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain by the year 2015.

An immediate reaction was this:  Since Walmart is such a megapower in the commercial world, this measure will probably affect a negligible number of its suppliers and make little to no impact on total greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, though the measure is not easy to enforce abroad and remains a voluntary choice for businesses that sell to Walmart, Walmart will favor companies adjusting to more efficient practices within the next five years.  This could effect 100,000 sizable businesses, including Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble.  Definitely not small potatoes there.

And in terms of the environment, the cutback is roughly equivalent to taking 3.8 million cars off the road for a year.

What does this have to do with a small business owner along Main Street, PA?  Skeptics doubt that Walmart intends to improve the state of the environment with this campaign.  In their book (or on their blog), it seems like one more power play to rule the marketplace.

Uh… so what?  As long as consumers vote with their dollar, Walmart will get elected again and again because this business refuses to ignore its constituents.  People now seek products that address environmental concerns; for Walmart, an example of that means selling clothing made from faster-drying materials, to reduce automatic dryer usage.  For the small business owner, this means phasing out Styrofoam dishware for paper or recyclable plastics.  Or better yet, providing in-house ceramic dishes that can be cleaned in an Energy Star bulk washer.

Yes, Walmart’s buying power and upfront capital far exceed that of the Main Street store owner.  But Walmart has set the bar far higher for itself and smaller businesses can capitalize on this trend in a relative way.

To read more about Walmart’s consultation with the Environmental Defense Fund to define specific qualifications for its suppliers, read Dominique Browning’s full blog post.  Or watch Walmart’s 45-minute webcast of the announcement.

Time will tell whether Walmart genuinely follows through on its promises.  But the small business owner who holds him or herself personally accountable can act on these objectives in an immediate and tangible way.

We’re interested to know:  How does this affect your opinion of Walmart, the marketplace, and/or how your efforts to create a more sustainable business might be perceived in the future?

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Filed under In the News, inspiration, Retailers

Trail Town Outreach Corps: Your Friendly Neighborhood Business Resource

As the sun comes out and the Everest-like snow piles begin to melt, it’s clear that we are at the beginning of another season out on the trail! Spring cleaning is officially upon us, so besides having time to dust off your shelves and spruce up your window displays, it is equally as important to reassess  how to cut down on your monthly overhead. And surprise, surprise! Being green can help you accomplish this.

Simple steps to cut down overhead include:

-turning lights off when you leave the room

power strips when not in use can be turned off

-lowering the thermostat down after work hours

-using compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent

We already have some great ideas for lowering your monthly overhead and simultaneously becoming a more sustainable business archived right here in the GAP SBN blog all available as a resource for your perusal. Also, we at the Trail Town Outreach Corps want to remind you that we are another valuable resource available to help you research sustainable practices, help you write grant applications, or find you the assistance you need to make your sustainable business vision a reality!

Also, please remember that the GAP Sustainable Business Network is a place for you, the forward-thinking local businesses along the trail, to engage in dialogue as a community about how to better your sustainable business practices by sharing new ideas, detailing your own challenges, or reaching out for assistance.

This is your network to build as you see fit so be sure to make the most of it!

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Filed under 1, B&Bs, Business, Green on the GAP, Outdoor/Bicycle Outfitters, Resources, Restaurants, Retailers, Triple bottom line

Clean and Green – Eco-friendly cleaning products for your business

Cleaning supplies can be a big expense for your business, but do you ever think about the additional costs the products you choose incur on your health and the environment? This article will discuss cleaning products that preserve your health, wallet,  the environment and still maintain the  cleanliness standards we are accustomed to.

There are several keywords to look for when considering the “greenness” of a cleaning product: bio-degradable, non-toxic, plant-based, chlorine-free, phosphate-free. (Keywords like “green”  and “natural” aren’t necessarily the best indicators, as those terms are not regulated.) These products do less harm by not adding harmful chemicals to the environment or indoor air, which the EPA has found is often worse than outdoor pollution when using conventional chemical cleaners.

There are many products that are priced comparably to other brands of cleaners including Ecover, Seventh Generation, Clorox Green Works. Brands like Simple Green are especially cost-effective as it comes in a concentrated form and are geared toward industrial uses.

To save even more money, consider making your own cleaning products from basic household items like vinegar and baking soda. Find some recipes here.

For even more information check out these sites:

Wikipedia’s page on green cleaning and…

Planet Green’s article jam-packed with information on more products, statistics and more…

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Filed under B&Bs, Business, how-to, Outdoor/Bicycle Outfitters, Restaurants, Retailers, Triple bottom line