A Wall Street Journal story published Wednesday examined how retailers like Kroger, Walmart and McDonald’s are using technology to keep shoppers from waiting in long lines as they checkout. Kroger grocery stores, for instance, installed infrared cameras, which detect body heat, at the entrances and checkout lanes. The technology, long used by the military and law enforcement, has reduced the average shopper’s waiting time from four minutes to 26 seconds. Read the full store here.
For Earth Day, I’m re-posting this story from Thursday on the city’s most eco-friendly retailers. Green Oklahoma is a resource for anyone looking to find an eco-friendly business. The site has a directory with everything from carpet cleaners to clothing stores. Check it out at www.greenokla.com.
Some Oklahoma City retailers treat every day like Earth Day
BY JENNIFER PALMER
Published in The Oklahoman April 18, 2013
For many Oklahoma City retailers, it’s easy being green.
Well, not always easy, but it’s something so ingrained in the business that it’s more than just the products or services they sell, it’s how they operate.
Environmental activist Lisa Sharp in 2010 began compiling a list of eco-friendly businesses in the state and the result is Green Oklahoma, a website that includes a directory of these companies.
Among them: maid services, dry cleaners, composters, recyclers and baby stores.
“I wanted to put it all in one place so everybody could easily find it,” Sharp said. “The site has grown a lot. People seem excited to be able to find this information more easily now.”
Here are a few eco-friendly businesses in Oklahoma City:
• The Changing Table. The cloth diaper and baby store opened in October on the west Interstate 240 access road between Western and Pennsylvania Avenues after being an online-only business for several years. The retailer primarily sells cloth diapers and offers unique programs like newborn diaper rental and a trial program for parents interested in trying different kinds of diapers, said co-owner Elizabeth Pilgrim. They also seek out locally made diapers and other products.
Pilgrim said becoming a parent is often a turning point for people wanting to be more green.
“Sometimes when people have babies, they are more aware of it because they are bringing this little person into the world,” she said.
• Well Maid. Cleaning green is how Well Maid operates, using natural, nontoxic products, essential oils and reusable microfiber towels to spruce up clients’ homes. About half of its customers seek out Well Maid specifically because of its eco-friendly methods, and the other half just like the job its employees do, said owner Candace Lockett.
“We’re conscious of it on every level. Our brochures are printed on recycled paper. All our employees are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles,” she said.
• Fertile Ground. Terry Craighead co-founded Fertile Ground last year by offering a compost service to restaurants.
The company picks up food waste, turns it into compost and eventually, plans to sell the finished product. Restaurants pay for the service because it offsets some of the cost of trash pickup.
Fertile Ground has added residential composting, which costs homeowners $29 a month. Their bucket of food scraps is picked up once a week and they receive finished compost. The company has also begun doing compost consultations and garden planning.
• Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma. Since moving its headquarters in 2010, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma has greatly expanded its recycling program, adding plastic, paper, cardboard — even plastic foam and computers, said Chief Executive Chris Daniels. And they still recycle textiles and shoes.
About 40 percent of donations to Goodwill are sellable, and only a third of that actually sells. That’s why the organization has been working to find an environmentally responsible way to dispose of the rest. In the past two years, the organization has recycled 10 million pounds of items per year, Daniels said, reducing the company’s waste to less than 5 percent.
“There’s a responsibility: an environmental responsibility to keep the items out of the landfill, a fiduciary responsibility to not spend money on throwing things away, plus a responsibility to the donors because they are taking the time to bring the items to us,” he said.
So not only can donors drop off their unwanted clothing, but those pieces of plastic foam from their new refrigerator or the old desktop computer taking up space in their home can be taken to any Goodwill store or donation center in central Oklahoma.
• Green Bambino. Owner Morgan Harris pioneered eco-friendly retailing in Oklahoma City with her store, Green Bambino, which opened in 2010. She started out mainly with cloth diapers, and those still comprise 40 percent of sales. But recent additions to the inventory include Lullaby Earth crib mattresses, which are Greenguard certified and recyclable, and Clek convertible car seats, which are made with a less toxic waterproofing and flame retardant and can be sent back to the company for recycling.
Harris’ commitment to being an eco-friendly business doesn’t stop there. Store displays were built with salvaged materials, a full recycling station is set up at the back of the store and Harris shops locally whenever possible.
“It was important for us to practice what we preach,” she said.
Monday is Tax Day, which can be a drag, but retailers are once again using the date as an excuse to give away free or cheap food to brighten consumers’ moods. Here are a few offers we found (click the retailer’s name to find a location):
Sonic – happy hour (half price drinks and slushes) all day
Cinnabon – two free bites from 6-8 p.m. at participating locations
Schlotzky’s – free The Original small sandwich when you buy a 32 ounce drink and chips
Great American Cookies – free birthday cookie
Kmart’s new “ship my pants” commercial has some people laughing – and others saying its offensive. The retailer today apologized via Twitter but apparently deleted the tweet. What do you think? Funny, or not?
The New York Times this week looked at why retailers often ask for shoppers’ ZIP code at checkout. Their answer: marketing. Combined with the name from your credit card, they can find out more about you and sell your information, leading to more junk mail and marketing calls. The writer’s advice: politely decline. They should process your transaction anyway. Read the full story here.
Before Sprouts Farmers Market opens its newest store in Norman on Wednesday, March 27, the grocer is holding a contest to find its biggest fan. The winner receives a 2-minute shopping spree the day before the store opens. To enter, tell Sprouts why you are their biggest fan in 100 words or less at www.sprouts.com/spree. The deadline to enter is 6 p.m. this Friday and the winner will be announced Monday. The “Sprouts sprint” takes place Tuesday, March 26 at 10 a.m. Good luck!
Whole Foods Market wants all products on its shelves labeled for GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and has set a deadline of 2018. However, many of its suppliers are already working on it and the grocer believes it will see progress much sooner. GMOs are food products made from genetically modified crops and are controversial because the products are often not labeled, keeping consumers in the dark. Whole Foods’ move is expected to set an example for other grocers by requiring GMOs on the label, which lets customers make the choice. Currently, the only way to avoid GMOs is to buy certified organic products. To read more about Whole Foods and its commitment to GMO labeling, click here.
Forbes today released its annual ranking of the world’s richest people, and some notable retailers made the list. Oklahoma’s own David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby, is #276 with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion. Love’s founders Tom and Judy Love came in at #384 with $3.5 billion.
The biggest gainer on the list is Amancio Ortega, of Zara, a Spanish clothing and accessories retailer, who moved up two spots to #3 with $57 billion.
Other retailers include Bernard Arnault, of LVMH, which owns the Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy brands (#10), Wal-mart’s Christy Walton (#11), Stefan Persson of H&M (#12), Wal-mart’s Jim Walton (#14), Wal-mart’s Alice Walton (#16) and Wal-Mart’s S. Robson Walton (#17.)
For more on Oklahoma’s energy billionaires, check out what our Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth wrote earlier today.
Michaels arts and crafts retailer is once again celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day by giving unsuspecting customers a free gift card and encouraging them to pay it forward with another act of random kindness. On Sunday, Feb. 17, more than $100,000 worth of gift cards will be handed out at Michaels stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Michaels is encouraging customers to share their random acts of kindness on the retailer’s Facebook page as well as on Twitter and Instagram (using the hashtag #RAOKDIY.)
Though the next major holiday is Valentine’s Day on Thursday, retailers will soon begin advertising discounts for President’s Day – what some in the industry consider the first major sale day of the year. According to dealnews.com, a deal roundup website, some of last year’s President’s Day sales started nine days before the holiday and most kicked off five days in advance. This year, President’s Day is Monday, Feb. 18, so we should see sales start around Valentine’s Day.
Apparel is the most discounted item, the site found. Last year, clothing accounted for 30 percent of sales. Home furnishings, accessories, mattresses, patio furniture and electronics were other popular sales items.
To read more, visit the site here.