July 5, 2011
Cowtown is a little greener these days, thanks to Liz Johnston.
The 29-year-old Fort Worth native said growing up she’d never been particularly eco-conscious but her priorities shifted when she became pregnant with her first child. As an expecting mother, she became vigilant about what she ate, cleaned with and put into her home. Her concern was not only for her unborn daughter’s health but for the world she would inherit.
“To me that meant being considerate of the resources we’re using and making sure that the lifestyle we’re leading is going to be there for her,” she said. “ There are things we can do that will directly impact [the environment] in a good way or a bad way.”
Meanwhile, Johnston discovered she loved digging around the internet for green products and realized she was becoming an expert. She started toying with the idea of opening her own business. She knew the owners of a Dallas-based green business, and she and her husband, Brian, considered purchasing it. Instead, they tiptoed into the green market with an online business in 2009. Then a few months later, with financial backing from her family and a friend and his partners, they jumped in all with way with a small storefront in a 500-square-foot space in west Fort Worth.
“It wasn’t the most logical time to open a business, given the economic climate, but it was a good time given people’s interest,” said Johnston.
The store, dubbed The Greener Good for Johnston’s visionary philosophy, quickly developed a loyal following, stocking eco-friendly baby products, jewelry and kitchen items along with gadgets like solar-powered battery chargers.
Last year, encouraged by its success, they moved into an expanded space in a busy shopping district, just west of downtown Fort Worth.
Today, their 2,000-square-foot showroom is located in the heart of an upscale shopping district surrounded by trendy dining spots, a movie theater and high-end townhomes, just blocks from the Trinity River walking trails. The store features a large selection of thoroughly researched, environmentally friendly items
“We’re really picky about what we put in the store,” said Johnston, who also strives to buy fair trade products. “Just because it’s made from bamboo doesn’t mean it’s a product we want in our store.”
With more room to spread out, they’ve been able to develop their inventory to include shoes, housewares and home improvement materials like house paint and tile. There’s even a selection of garden items that includes eco-friendly pest control products, a heat-based weed zapper and light weight push lawnmowers, which can be special ordered
Johnston said as her space quadrupled, her sales have quadrupled with more foot traffic coming in daily. She said her customers are mostly women, but she hopes to attract more men to the store this year when she expands her inventory to include more green building materials and furniture.
Johnston said she wants to eventually open additional stores. They’ve already been approached about starting a franchise. However, she said she’s in it for the long haul.
“We’re not looking to build something and sell it, we’re looking to build something and expand it.” she said. “We want to have something to pass on to our kids.”