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Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
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11/01/2009 - Business Blossoms at GreenCupboards

GreenCupboards is an Internet-based store that sells ordinary household products 'those things that you would find in your cupboards. Their unique selling situation is that all of their products are certified as environmentally friendly, or "green". GreenCupboards provides eco-friendly, natural and/or organic products for the home, office, or business. Although they sell their products at www.greencupboards.com, their corporate headquarters are in the Terabyte Triangle at 221 North Wall St., Suite 628.

GreenCupboards had an interesting beginning. Principals Josh Neblett, President and Sarah Wollnick, VP of Marketing and Merchandising were students at Gonzaga. GreenCupboards grew from a concept into a fully developed business plan that was entered in the Hogan Program business plan competition, and the GreenCupboards plan won the student portion of the competition. Thanks to the work that went into creating a winning business plan, GreenCupboards was able to attract angel investment funds through Tom Simpson at Northwest Venture Associates sufficient to begin the business. "It's been awesomely fun," says Wollnick, "more fun than I could have imagined."

GreenCupboards certifies all of the products they sell. In the beginning, they had a chemist test each and every product and had focus groups look at the products. This turned out to be cumbersome and expensive, so the company switched to a lighter certification. They still examine each product, pay careful attention to how it is manufactured, how it is packaged, and how it is shipped. If the product doesn't pass scrutiny, it doesn't become part of the GreenCupboards store.

Although initially, GreenCupboards did have an inventory and a warehouse, they have switched to a drop-ship model of doing business. "This is a more streamlined model, and it reduces the carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of energy needed for a product to get to the final destination," according to Wollnick.

GreenCupboards.com is a fully enabled e-commerce Web site. They accept payment through Paypal and credit cards through Authorize.net. When an order is received, full time employees at GreenCupboards shepherd the order through the entire system until it is received by the purchaser within 5 to 7 workdays. If there is a problem, GreenCupboards takes care of it, according to Wollnick.

Including full time and part time employees, GreenCupboards is responsible for thirteen jobs. They are constantly in search of new products. The Web site is continually being changed and upgraded. Their Web site includes a blog. They use Twitter and Facebook as marketing tools.

"We're not %u2018tree hugger green'," says Wollnick, "but we do try to do our part for the environment. We car pool; ride bikes to work; have a small compost container in the office. That's what we try to share with our customers 'the small steps that anyone can take in everyday life to help preserve the environment."

The crew at GreenCupboards never stands still. Both Wollnick and Treblett are finishing MBA's. GreenCupboards.com is going to get a complete makeover. "We need a more robust platform," says Wollnick. "We want to be a community." The new Web site will include even more educational material. It will feature "green tips" for families and students. "We'll offer information you can really use." However, the products that their customers have come to know will still be available with the links provided for ordering. "We'll be sure that the new site is good for both customers and vendors." It's being carefully planned to avoid any problems and keep the cost down. "We don't throw money at a problem, we figure out what we need to know, what we want to do, and approach the solution from a point of know ledge."

For more information about GreenCupboards, visit www.greencupboards.com.

Billie Moreland
 
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