The timeline so far:
May 2019- I officially launched Green Gifts with plans to have it be a sustainable gift store. The main products were things that were up cycled from secondhand materials.
July 2019- I receive my sales permit and am introduced to a local refill shop. I love their concept and want to work together to make their products more accessible. I also noted that many of their products are not closed loop (meaning the manufacturer does not take back their larger plastic container to reuse) Essentially just moving the plastic waste further up the line, but not eliminating it. This retailer told me they were not interested, so I searched for closed loop vendors myself and found many
August 2019- I launch my e-commerce site and provide "milkman" style deliveries where I take back empty containers to be reused. I take and week long road trip to visit other refill shops and eco-retailers in Oregon and Washington and learn a lot from them.
March 2020- Covid shuts the world down and I start providing next day delivery as I don't have anything else on my family's schedule.
June 2020- My family and I take a long road trip we had rescheduled from March, I meet over a dozen new shops and pick up products from several vendors. I noticed many shops were hindered by high shipping for many products, forcing them to have to mark their prices above suggested retail to be able to keep their operations sustainable.
July 2020- I start to participate in more local markets, but quickly find my little Chevy Bolt and Mitsubishi iMiEV (both full electric) are too small to fit all my product. I could also use a larger/longer range vehicle to transport product between west coast manufacturers and shops. I start researching a heartier EV.
August 2020- I buy a 2016 Tesla Model X from a dealership in Salt Lake City and have it shipped over.
September 2020- I take a crazy 40 hour road trip out to the midwest to pick up orders from vendors and visit shops. I also start attending the Thursday Night NeighborGood Farmers Market at District 56 every week.
January 2021- I attend the market less frequently as there is often very little traffic. My consumer online sales have also dropped, but I see a pick uptick in shops requesting my help moving product. I am approached by a couple of my vendors to become an actual rep for them. I provide samples to shops and collect orders. I also rescue a large amount of inventory from a shop in AZ that is closing its doors.
Summer 2021- I temporarily discontinue my direct to consumer sales when out of town on an extend summer road trip to meet new shops across the country. When I return, I decide to focus on brand repping and distributing for a few brands and do not reopen my direct to consumer site.
Spring 2022- I am incredible busy running product from northern Washington, down to San Diego and out to Santa Fe New Mexico. But I hit a major snag when my biggest vendor refuses to pay out the agreed upon commissions for selling their product. I discovered a number of products that are lacking in the market and try my hand at producing them myself. Some are hits, others are flops, and between the materials, the equipment and the delayed payments from my vendor, I find myself very quickly racking up serious debt.
January 2023- I officially decide I can no longer work with the aforementioned vendor and begin to pivot to find new ones. I also finally wake to the pleas of my family to not be on the road so often and I scale back my operations.
Spring 2023- I find a couple new vendors I love and start coordinating with them to help them distribute their products more effectively on the West Coast. My wholesale orders slow as I run low on certain inventory and many shops move or close. A major transition in the industry is beginning. But very excitingly, I begin talking with the maker of a new technology that will make refillable goods much more accessible.
Summer 2023- Another epic, month long road trip to visit new vendors and shops. But tragically, it is greatly disrupted by a car issue that left us without a working vehicle for over a week. Many meetings are cancelled and the trip ends up being less than half as productive as I had hoped.
September 2023- New inventory is on its way and I am spending several sleepless nights reconstructing my website to welcome back local retail customers. I will be resuming the MilkMan style deliveries in October and will be introducing a standalone refill kiosk in Elk Grove before the end of the year.
I'm going to wrap this here as my laptop is about to die and apparently this Starbucks does not have outlets available for guests. Many more updates coming soon!
-With much love and respect- <3 --- Stephanie