By Jesse Wood
Dec. 4, 2014. When Debi Golembieski was a student at Appalachian State University in the ‘90s majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on environmental studies and a minor in sustainable development, she never thought she would become a business owner.
But years later in 2007, she and three other mothers of small children got together and talked about wanting a store where they could shop for natural baby products and goods for the whole family that emphasized “conscious consumerism.” Without many options available in the High Country, they decided to open Green Mother Goods.
“I knew a lot of problems were going on with our Earth, and I never guessed I would go into the business world. Originally, I worked for some nonprofits and helped start High Country Conservancy, which is now Blue Ridge Conservancy,” Golembieski said. “Eventually, I decided I wanted to go into business and make changes in the way that the business world runs and try to show people that it doesn’t have to be the environment versus the economy. In order to have a strong economy you have to think about the environment and the sustainable ways of doing things and that is what makes the local economy stronger in the long term.”
So she and her partners stocked the new store with green products that were responsibly manufactured in terms of what kind of impact those items had on the environment and also on the laborers. The “Earth-friendly” goods include organic-cotton clothing, fair-trade items, natural toys, products made from recycled components and local art and crafts.
For example, Golembieski said that some of the brands or products in stock include Global Girlfriend, which supports impoverished woman who make apparel and teaches them business skills; Good Paper, which employs women who escaped from the sex-trafficking trade in the Philippines to make Christmas cards; and earrings that have been made of bombshells that people have found through cleanups of Cambodia.
In explaining her emphasis on conscious consumerism, Golembieski said, “In other words, thinking about what we buy, who made it, where it comes from and how it impacts the local environment where the product is being made and the workers that made it. So we kind of do the research for our customers to find the best products we can offer. When people come in here they know they can feel good about what they are buying.”
Grand Re-Opening on Friday, Dec. 5
On Friday, Dec. 5, Green Mother Goods will celebrate its re-grand opening at 2 p.m. with a ribbon cutting featuring Mayor Andy Ball, live music and refreshments. On Friday and Saturday, Golembieski will offer drawings for people to draw their own discounts (10 to 50 percent). Note that Green Mother Goods has moved and is now located on Boone Heights Drive.
Green Mother Goods initially opened and operated for several years next to EarthFare. In May 2013, Walgreens attempted to purchase property that Green Mother Goods was leasing to build one of its retail pharmacy stores. However, the Boone Board of Adjustment denied a special use permit for Walgreens. At the public hearing, dozens of people spoke in support of Green Mother Goods and some were even brought to tears at the thought of Walgreens replacing their beloved local, “green” store.
In any event, Green Mother Goods closed the store in June. EarthFare ended up buying the property for $1.5 million several months later, according to records with the Watauga County Register of Deeds.
However earlier this year, Golembieski opened in a new location at 196 Boone Heights Drive, which is directly across from Goodwill. Golembieski said it took some time to get the store re-stocked and completely settled in. Now, she’s ready to celebrate the grand re-opening of Green Mother Goods just in time for the holiday season.
“I hope the community will come and check out and see what we are offering now and come take advantage of some of the good deals. I think that especially this time of year, Christmas gets so commercialized. Yes, we are trying to sell gifts [but with an] alternative – peace on Earth, goodwill to all,” Golembieski. “Let’s put our money where our mouths are and try to support gifts that really support that in our world. Every dollar is like a vote, so we vote for fair trade and sustainability.”
Other items in the store include new hemp shoes, bags, backpacks and t-shirts, selection of stainless steel water bottles and lunch containers, Maggie’s Organics socks, cloth diapers, fair trade and locally handcrafted jewelry, recycled journals and stationary, wooden toys, handmade dolls, hand-carved gourd instruments from Peru, handmade artisan Christmas ornaments and much more.
For more information, click here or call 828-263-7010.