This past week, I made it over to The Green Wagon to talk to Tara Shields, the new owner of the shop. I wanted to find out a little bit more about the popular East Nashville store. Below, Tara explains the founder Jennifer Casale’s original intentions for the store and where Tara hopes to take the store in the future. If you haven’t been to The Green Wagon before, be sure to make it over there and see all the neat things going on in the store.
A (Tara Shields): Jennifer Casale got the idea for the store while she was out in Arizona in grad school for poetry. While there she was helping with water conservation education. She’d go around to schools talking about water conservation. She started learning more and more about natural products and spending a lot of time at the store trying to figure out which product to buy. If someone really wants to be conscious about what they buy, it would be easier to make it available in one store.
Q: Why Nashville, or more specifically, why East Nashville?
A: Well, she knew Nashville needed a place like this and the original location was actually on Murphy Rd. The East Nashville location was supposed to be a second location, but she realized it was more of a destination shop. Two stores really couldn’t be sustained, but people would travel for the one store.
Q: The store has become an East Nashville staple…
A: Yeah! That’s what we’re trying to make it, for sure. When we used to put data in our email list, less than a quarter of the emails were for people from the 37206 zip code, but now that number has risen significantly.
Q: I know you guys like to hold local events like your Thanksgiving dinner. Are there any events coming up in the near future?
A Yeah we have a huge event coming up on March 19th. It will be our spring re-opening event. It will be celebrating the new owners and showing East Nashville what we’re bringing that’s different. We’re going to have a concert in our parking lot with eight bands. We’ll have a landscape rain garden workshop to help show people how to be more sustainable. But here’s the exciting part, Dr. Hadley from East Side Smiles is starting a brewery and they’re debuting their beer here. We’ll be having a suggest-a-donation that will go to support a community garden being built for the Martha O’Briyn center. When I talk to people who come in and they do something interesting, I’m like let’s have a workshop! We’ve had cloth diaper swaps, toy swaps. We just want to be a hub for people who want to live more sustainable. The community aspect is huge when it comes to sustainability.
Q: I know most of the items in the store are made locally, about how much of it is made here? And who are these people?
A: 70% of it is made locally. It’s made by moms, and people like you and me. The dentist that makes the toothpaste has an office in Murfreesboro. We have people come in everyday telling us they’re making this and that. A lot of them have backgrounds in massage therapy or aromatherapy. People who make the jewelry are just crafty people.
Q: The last thing I want to get is fEASTival, a new event here in East Nashville. Part of the purpose of the festival is to highlight local businesses in East Nashville. What do you hope to gain from an event that’s trying to promote business like yours?
A: I think it’s awesome! Really upping the food part is important. People from the West side always say they come to East Nashville to go out to eat. As far as a business owner, It’s amazing for us to get the exposure. I love the community vibe of good festivals: The walking around outside and being with families. Everyone is going to be just outside our store. So we’re hoping for a lot of foot traffic that day. I think bringing the music together is important too. Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock were just doing a music video right outside a few weeks ago. East Nashville definitely has an important role in the music scene. I would love in the future for us to play a bigger role in this event, because this is really what we’re about.