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terra20 set to launch in September

By Alejandro Bustos on August 26, 2012

Ottawa will soon be home to Canada’s largest eco-friendly department store, offering local consumers thousands of environmentally sustainable products.

With more than 12,000 green products, among them eco-friendly housewares, cosmetics, toys and clothing, the store will contain the largest selection of environmentally responsible goods under one roof in North America.

Set to occupy part of the former Ikea building at the Pinecrest Shopping Centre in Nepean, the new store will be called terra20, and will be the first outlet in what the owners hope will become a national green retail chain.

The store will also offer an ecobar where customers can refill cleaning supplies into their own containers, thereby reducing packaging.

The grand opening of the 20,000-square-foot location (15,000 of which will be retail floor space and 5,000 warehouse space) is scheduled for September 15.

“If we are ready we will open a few days ahead of schedule,” says Pamela Tourigny, terra20’s community manager. “But not too much before that.

The brainchild of local entrepreneur Steve Kaminski, executive director of the Colonnade Group of Companies and a board member of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, the idea for terra20 was sparked by a home building project.

“Steve was building a home a number of years ago and he was trying to incorporate sustainable materials,” recounts Tourigny. “He did a search of where he could get these materials but he found that there was no one-stop place to get them.”

This realization inspired Kaminski to come up with the idea of a department store that specialized in green merchandise.

Partnering with Bill Stewart, who has more than 20 years worth of experience in retail and is now the president of terra20, Kaminski was able to put in place his vision of founding an eco-friendly retailer.

An integral part of this vision is the participation of the store’s suppliers.

As part of its vendor agreements, terra20 requires each supplier to appear in the store either in person or virtually at least once a year in order to talk about their goods.

“Our intent is to have a few vendors in our store on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis,” says Tourigny. “We want them to interact with our customers (so they can) give their products a shot because they are great products.”

However, with suppliers across Canada, the United States and Europe, accommodations will need to be made for some of the presentations.

“It’s not very eco to have them flying from all over the place,” says Tourigny about suppliers who live far from Ottawa. The company is therefore looking at virtual options such as having presentations via Skype or video link when necessary.

“We are still working on that,” adds Tourigny.

While the Ottawa location will be the first terra20 store, the plan is to expand across the country. According to a media report, a second store is being planned for Toronto, with a possible launch next year.

When asked about future expansion plans, however, Tourigny says that nothing has been finalized.