CHS Interviews: Ruth True of NuBe Green and her ‘American-made sustainable products’ of Capitol Hill

Last November CHS alerted you to a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy as the appropriately-named NuBe Green set up shop in the OddFellows building.  A year later we talked with Ruth True, who founded the store with a mission to carry only American-made sustainable products.

How would you describe your first year on the Hill?  And why is this store on Capitol Hill, in particular?

Educational and a hoot!  I’ve always loved Capitol Hill, so working in a neighborhood that I love made sense.

Have you noticed any trends in your volume based on economic trends (e.g., more people buying repurposed items, or do people view green/sustainable products as luxuries now)?

It’s hard to notice a trend in buying patterns after only one year. Our sales have certainly trended the right direction and people’s response continues to be very positive.

Do you find most of the people coming into your store are familiar with sustainable, green practices, or are they newbies, like you once were?  

I think we get to see like minded and newbies. My hope is that the newbies have a little bit of a new perspective after leaving the store and the like mindeds are just pleased! 

With a store stocking so many storied objects, it seems like the store itself should be a place for stories – people meeting, learning, etc.  Do you have any to share?

There are so many but I’ll give last nights story a shot. A Finnish woman came into the store and browsed. On her way out she mentioned she saw something made in China. I responded that it must have been a repurposed item of clothing that originated in China but has been reworked. She was adamant that that was not the case so I kindly asked her to show me. It turns out that one of the companies we work with had put in some “green” glue that was made in China! I was mortified and pulled them all to send back to the company. It turns out my customer used to have a store of all Finnish made products and one customer called her on a made in China item many years ago. We had a blast talking and she ended up purchasing a couple of toys for her grandchild. I can’t wait to call the company this morning.  

You’ve featured a number of local artists at Nube Green.  How has that worked out?  Are there plans to host more?

I have more artists’ work than I can sell but I’ll never stop adding. I love the artists and their creativity.

Do you have any plans to bring your store to other cities?

 Yes. I do have plans to expand into other cities. The idea is that each store will have about 50% the same products and about 50% immediate local to where the store is.

I love that your website is loaded with sustainability tips and I’m wondering if there’s something in particular you think Capitol Hill residents could address in order to be more green?  Or what’s one thing you tell a lot of people who come in to your store?

Support Local. Some people wonder why our things are so pricey, but the basic cost of living in our area is quite high. But then I pose the simple question if they want to live in a community with artists, and they respond, “Of course!”  This is simple math in my opinion.

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