Priscilla Woolworth, great-granddaughter of F. W. Woolworth, who started the iconic five-and-dime store Woolworth in 1878, launched an eponymous online general store for eco-friendly products in January. Time Magazine recently been named her a “New Green Pioneer” in its Green Design 100 list. Her goal with priscillawoolworth.com is to “provide the best selection of eco-friendly products on the market” an the online store offers everything from eco-friendly cleaning products such as Bon Ami to bio-degradable trash bags.
Woolworth spent five years learning about retail before starting her venture. She said her online store is not about relaunching the old Woolworth brand which made her last name famous. She wants her site “to be part of the movement of change – to encourage people to buy non-toxic [cleaning] products that becomes the norm, [to] encourage an industry [to make] products using recycled materials [and] to find clever ways to reuse trash that’s non-toxic.”
“I want this to be a site people can go to, be inspired and discover a community – locally, and a fair-trade community around the world that we can help by what we purchase. This has tremendous power,” Woolworth said.
Woolworth wants her online store to be the 21st century version of the “iconic Woolworth soda fountain.” The site offers a monthly newsletter visitors can subscribe to, and Woolworth has a blog on the site. The site also includes testimonials about the products.
Woolworth is very hands-on with the online general store. She writes copy for the products for sale on the site, tests the products, and photographs them.
In addition to eco-friendly products, the online store sells handmade items made by women in developing countries. The items include pencil cases made from rice bags and hand-women telephone wire teapots. “I want to encourage more utilitarian functional products,” Woolworth said. “I know my grandfather would be very proud of what I am doing, as he helped as many people as he could in his community.”
Although the online store carries an iconic name, the prices of most items are hefty considering the current economic crisis. Bon Ami sells for $5, a loofah dish scrubby for $5, a notebook from 100 percent recycled paper for $10, and a composition book for $6. Whether the name is enough to propel the site to success remains to be seen.