Giants and Grasshoppers

Retail and Consumer Science professors Dr. Shirley Ezell and Dr. Marcella Norwood, along with Dr. L. Kaye Crippin from the University of Arkansas, presented a case study: Giants and Grasshoppers: A Case Study of Sustainability, A Green Retail Business and Where Does It Go From Here? in Stockholm, Sweden last summer.

The case presented a new model and various challenges for an interior retailer specializing in green products and architectural design for residential and commercial markets. One issue that was touched upon was sustainability in single specialty retail stores and how "Giants" (the government, industry groups, and third party organizations) and "grasshoppers" (consumers) impact it. New Living, a retail store that specializes in interior products began in November 2007 inside Wagner Hardware, a 70-year-old historic building in Rice Village in Houston. Instead of a traditional business model that required a plan and data to secure financing, New Living focused on a different model that stressed environmental sustainability. Entrepreneurs took over the store in 2009 and came up with a "cobble shop concept" of a green historic building that sells products and services to both commercial and interior markets. In 2012, the business continued to expand and a larger audience was reached with the help of the online world. With the help of two interns from the University of Houston Retailing and Consumer Science program, New Living launched a Green Painter website and e-business.

Global sustainability is another challenge that the study explored. Importance was placed upon consumer participation and interest in decision-making and certifications, taking assertive approaches through international partnerships, working with universities to provide programs, courses, and research opportunities for students, and stimulating the imagination of future generations. New products like the fold – up car from Europe to help "reduce urban stress and pollution" or using compacted fiberfill (recycled bottle polymers) instead of virgin petrochemical feedstock to produce mattresses that eliminate foam, are just a few of the many ways to push for green sustainability.

The article will be published in the International Journal for Case Research Association (IJCRA).