Interview with The Green Green Wagon
As many of you know from our site and from getting to know our company, we are not just about Green Moving. We are about Green Living and a Green/Environmentally conscious community. We like to work together with other businesses in our community to promote an Eco Friendly way of life. We would like to use some of our blogs to introduce other Green Businesses, local Green Events and/or Green Pioneers to our customers and followers.
For this article, I have an interview with Johnny Shields of The Green Wagon East Atlanta. The Green Wagon is an all-natural/sustainable general store featuring local products with a main aim of making living sustainably convenient for their customers and aiding East Atlanta (and Atlanta) in moving towards a more sustainable future. Here’s what Johnny had to say to our questions!
What motivated you to start The Green Wagon?
We wanted to have a one stop shop for all-natural and locally-made products. The idea is to make it convenient and affordable for our customers to live sustainably. We also wanted to use the store as a venue for positive change in our neighborhood, to be a leader in the “shop local” movement, and to show people that you can have a close-knit, safe, clean, sustainable, and fun community if businesses, non-profits, and individuals work together for common goals.
What are the biggest challenges of operating a green business?
I would say sourcing products and educating customers is the most difficult part of our business. Our standards are very high: everything must be 100% all-natural and must be manufactured in the United States. And we try to source as much as we can locally (about 75% of what we carry). This is even harder than most would think (even harder than we thought it would be!) so few things are made in this country now, it is staggering! This is another reason it is so important for us to do what we do! The second difficulty is educating potential customers about the myriad reasons to use all-natural products and to buy USA and locally made.
What separates your business from your competition?
We have higher standards than any other similar business in Atlanta, maybe anywhere. We are also a family company, my wife, Tara, and I own and operate the business together. We live in the community in which our business is located and I am born and raised in Atlanta, which I think helps keep you honest and ensures that everything we do is an effort to make the city and community in which we are raising our children a better place.
If you could tell someone about one product/service at The Green Wagon, what would it be?
Just one?! Jeez, that’s hard. Well I think I would have to say the Piece of Love line. Piece of Love is a line of soaps, lotion bars, candles, laundry powder, and lip balms made by participants in the Martha O’Bryan Center’s Adult Education Program. The Martha O’Bryan Center is a non-profit here in East Atlanta which serves the Cayce Homes community, one of the largest government housing developments in Middle Georgia. The Adult Education Program aids participants in taking, and passing, their GED. Participants make, package, and sell Piece of Love products as a kind of small business internship. In addition, the sale of the products goes back to the program to help participants pay the $75 dollar fee associated with the test. This we feel is a good representation of what we are trying to do with The Green Wagon: sell quality, healthy products, to make our community a better place, and to give opportunity to individuals in our community.
How can consumers purchase your products?
Folks can purchase our products here at our store at 5 Points in East Atlanta or at the West Atlanta Farmer’s Market (9am-noon, Saturdays at Richland Park), or East Atlanta Farmer’s Market (3:30-6:30pm, Wednesdays at 10th St. and Russell).
Does your company participate in any community outreach?
Yes, a lot! We work with several local non-profits to put together benefit concerts that have come to be called our “Block Parties” about 3 or 4 times a year. These are community events designed to get folks from the community together to share in a fun afternoon while enjoying several local bands and locally brewed beer, while supporting a local non-profit. We have our Summer Block Party coming up June 2nd! We’ll have several varieties of both established and up and coming local breweries, a great line-up of local bands, and it will benefit East Atlanta Cooperative Ministry, which works with our homeless community here in East Atlanta and also works with food security in the area-Great organization!
What is the best attribute of The Green Wagon?
The best attribute of The Green Wagon is our commitment to community betterment. We want to be a leader in bringing our community toward sustainability, both with the quality of our products and our participation in the local economy and community. We want to make our community a role model for the rest of the state, country, and even world of how moving toward sustainability will improve the quality of life for all members of the community!—
We would like to thank Johnny for taking the time to speak with us about his passion for not only Green Living, but a passion for our community. If you have a chance, please stop by the Green Wagon East Atlanta and see how they can help your household be more environmentally friendly too!