Sunday, December 23, 2007

First Year Anniversary

Well, it's been a year in our little shop on Florida Ave. We moved in right before Christmas last year, and this Christmas finds us happy with our decision. We have lived in Seminole Heights for almost three years now and this neighborhood continues to surprise us. Our business has evolved considerably over the year. When we opened, we weren't sure how the neighborhood would accept our unique take on furniture and it's mix with our own treehugger tendencies. However, the response has been wonderful, and we will continue to evolve and grow with our customers.

We have met so many great neighbors and made some wonderful friends here. I am happy to see that Nicole is moved into her Green House on Genesee and that her built-ins are handling the majority of her book and record collection.

By the end of the year, we should have the first piece of TSM Designs (our own label!) furniture to grace a public city office! Speaking of official, we even visited Madison Middle School at our favorite art teacher's request and judged their recycled door decorations for Christmas.

We are still excited about the neighborhood's direction. More businesses are looking to our neighborhood for growth opportunities. Even as the housing market slows, our neighborhood is holding its values well compared to other areas in the city. We are so excited for what the new year will bring and hope that it brings you great things as well. Come by and see what's new!

Amy and Charles
Tampa Street Market

Monday, November 5, 2007

Green Printing for Dummies

We're looking into organic cotton t-shirts this week at the shop. We recently started offering recycled cotton totes as alternatives to plastic shopping bags in our store. This was another foray into screenprinting for us that led to quite an education in green options for printing. Apparently there is no best option for eco-friendly printing as most have their positives and negatives. This isn't a big surprise though as most green choices involve tradeoffs of some sort. A quick search on the web turns up lots of info, but no clear winner. Plastisol inks (plastic derivatives) are the most commonly used in printing and are easy to deal with for most printers. They don't really dry out like water based inks and last longer than the material they are printed on. The water based inks don't have the nasty chemicals, but they dry out and have to be cleaned out of the screens right after printing. This puts more ink in the waste stream and causes cleanup hassles involving more water use and energy. I thought I had a better shot with the latest plastisol inks that use acrylic softeners instead of pthalates and pvc. The problem is, they cost at least three times as much. This drives the clothing price up and makes mistakes that much more expensive. Hopefully, as the usage increases of these new eco-friendly inks the prices will go down. For now, the searching and experimenting continues...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tampa Bay isn't eco friendly?

It seems that we are bombarded with information about "green" businesses and "green-washing" every week in the news media, but this last week's article in the St. Pete Times really caught my attention. The article led off with "Tampa Bay isn't exactly eco-friendly..." These sort of generalizations catch your attention, and even though I haven't really made my mind up about the "eco-friendliness" of Tampa Bay, I do get defensive when our area gets picked on.

I read the article and was surprised that the only real protagonist in this story was a friend and customer of ours - Nicole Kibert. In the article she discussed some of the green efforts of the Carlton Fields law firm where she works. I enjoyed that part of the article and am proud of what Nicole and her people have done. It's not easy changing people's thinking or habits, but the rest of the article seemed to hash some well-travelled ground about over-exposed large businesses. Wal-Mart's efforts to green - yeah yeah. Citigroup's changed the thermostat and then back - seriously?

I know it starts small, but waiting on the big guys to do the work will just show our unwillingness to change. You can get FLOR tiles at Target now, but they don't make it clear that they are even an eco-responsible choice. I'm not ready to believe that the only companies working on this have deep pockets and thousands of employees and I hope that the rest of the Bay feels this way. I see people making small steps - simple things, like the appearance of more recycling bins out on Friday. I really love it when people come in the shop and sustainability and FSC certified are not foreign terms to them.

I'm looking for the local green efforts and I am encouraged by small businesses who want to make a difference. Last week I went to Grassroots (our area's amazing vegetarian restaurant) and saw them making a grassroots effort on their own. They are researching eco-friendly take out containers for their growing business. This is no big corporate initiative, just a little group trying to start something big.

Let me know if you see more signs of the growing green-ness of Tampa Bay at

Friday, April 27, 2007

Earth Day

So, Earth Day has once again come and gone. Before the big day, everyone from Oprah to Arnold was touting about going GREEN. There were green issues of popular magazines like Domino and Vanity Fair. As the day approached, my husband and I began to get excited. "Maybe people are finally waking up and getting it," I said. "The small efforts really do make a difference." Earth Day came and went, but after the rhetoric, it seems as though we are back to business as usual. The green splash has reduced to ripples on the community surface. I feel compelled to critique the lack of follow-through from these "leaders" of the community.
The lackadaisical attitude isn't just in Hollywood; Tampa has more that its fair share. I do have to say that I give Kudos to Mayor Pam Iorio, who has traded in her luxury sedan for a more eco friendly Honda hybrid, but is it enough?
We attended the Earth Day celebration at Lowry Park and I was impressed with a few booths, but the city's showing was very--rehearsed. I was looking for literature on recycling and information on what steps the city of Tampa was taking towards becoming more eco-friendly. Where is the solar power info? Why can't we recycle cardboard in the city? Where can I learn to make a rain barrel and is there an incentive for these home improvements? I had questions that I needed answers to. When I saw the solid waste recycling tent and other city recycling booths I bagan searching the tables for literature that would quench my thirst for information. Unfortunately, I left the booths more frustrated and thirsty than I came. Sure I had a nifty mouse pad made of tires, but no one there could tell me which plastics we recycle here and which we can't. The only hard information the tables had were how children could make paper hats from paper, and that was in the leaflet from 2003. I began seeing that all of the literature was from around 2003--have we not changed anything or even felt that change is important? We are not the only people who want to make Tampa a Green city and a leader in the state, so why does it feel like all of the momentum is just slipping away?
Tell me what you think.