Reclaiming the Great, GREEN Outdoors

2602-7Anna Papp has, figuratively speaking, been involved in the green industry for just over two decades now. In 1988 while working for a plumbing supplies store, Papp jumped at the opportunity to assist her boss in launching a seasonal retail venue on the Northshore. During the summer season they carried items typically reserved for warmer weather activities such as patio furniture and outdoor umbrellas, while in winter they stocked up on fireplace accessories. In this way, Papp developed an intimate connection with the cyclical wonders of the great outdoors. Using the term green to describe a nature lover and a friend of the environment, Papp was and is as green as they come.

A few years later, when her boss decided to refocus his efforts on the plumbing supply business, she couldn’t bear the thought of shutting down the Outdoor Living Center. So, in 1993 she bought it. “I had been so involved from the inception of the idea, and I already had the experience and was knowledgable in so many aspects of the business, that making the transition from employee to owner was easy,” recounts Papp.

The green Anna Papp, a nature lover and an experienced outdoor furniture guru, was now also a green business owner. In order to grow her small company, Papp knew she had to stock exclusive, alternative, and hard to find items, set a new standard for customer service, and most importantly, anticipate what customers were going to want long before they knew themselves. Papp, along with her loyal staff, hit the mark on all of these targets by only stocking what the big box stores would not carry, offering home delivery services, installation and assembly assistance, 12 to 20 year warranties, and of course, providing access to green, environmentally friendly products for the discriminate, eco conscious customer.

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As the primary buyer, Papp places particular emphasis on companies that use green technologies when manufacturing their goods as well as those that feature green products her customers can afford. “There are always additional costs for the manufacturer when using recycled materials. Seaside Casual Furniture, a line we sell, features all kinds of EnviroWood outdoor furniture made entirely from recycled plastic milk jugs and bottles,” notes Papp. “They have to purify and stabilize the raw material before they can reform it. It is a lot more durable than regular wood, and it has all sorts of positive implications for the environment,” reasons Papp. “And that is what lots of our customers are looking for these days. My job is to find these unique products and make them available and affordable for my customers.”

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Telescope is yet another green line that Papp is proud to carry. The original designer and manufacturer of the Director’s Chair, a folding canvas and wood design most commonly associated with the entertainment industry, conserves over half a million barrels of oil (or 24 million gallons of fuel) each year by heating their up-state New York manufacturing facility with the waste from their wood operations. Better yet, that has been their tradition long before the green revolution stole the media spotlight.

“Every tradeshow or market that I attend, you can see the change happening. Companies are moving towards responsible methods of producing their products, and they’re also thinking about where their products may end up years and years from now,” recalls Papp. “Recyclable materials are definitely ‘in’ right now, and next year you’ll see a lot of bamboo items available for the outdoor lifestyle industry.”

Eventually, the time will come when the meaning of green will hopefully loose a little of its eco identity, and the general public will not have to seek out these companies or products. Green practices will simply be the standard. Until then, small business owners, Anna Papp included, are doing their part to supply their customers with responsible options such as doormats made from recycled rubber tires. It’s up to you, now, to show your support and choose green. “It’s really exciting to see how many people come in and ask specifically for eco friendly items. As long as they continue to supply the demand, I am thrilled to demand the supply, so to speak,” concludes Papp.


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