Archive for August, 2009

Botanical Life meets Retail Life

If you’ve read our previous blog posts, you might perceive us as a team of ferocious athletes with a running finish line. In some ways that’s true; while most of us are miles away from our teenage years, there are no signs of anyone slowing down anytime soon. However, there is a calm and even peaceful side of Grand & Benedicts that many don’t see. A rejuvenating lunch hour spent stretching in relaxation yoga is a terrific example of our peaceful side -or better yet- tending to the herbs and vegetables in our newest pet project, the rooftop greenhouse.

As a member of the Grand & Benedicts Green Team, I loved the idea of building an employee greenhouse. What’s more sustainable than a greenhouse? And, what’s better than a juicy, home grown tomato? Oh my, they’re both hard to beat. Let’s not forget we live in Portland…. talk about the sense of community a greenhouse brings. But, getting this greenhouse to take off wasn’t as easy… it has been a learning process for all “farmer wannabes” around here.

At first, the greenhouse idea fostered skepticism around the office. We are a workplace after all…not a recreational center! Growing up on a farm and working in the yard when other kids were watching television, I can attest to how much time growing vegetables can take. I’ve since learned to appreciate gardening…. but let’s be realistic, who’s going to volunteer their lunch hour for botanical duty when we have a yoga studio, a fully equipped gym and a quiver of bikes waiting to be ridden?

Luckily, some more optimistic individuals made it happen.
Our appointed greenhouse coordinator played an instrumental role and now keeps a delightful spread of vegetables available for employees to enjoy; cherry tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, lettuce and-well- whatever is in season. A rooftop tomato and flower garden also provides employees with a lush place to retreat during lunch breaks.

I will keep you posted on our progress, but so far the plants survived the record- breaking heat wave we had a couple of weeks ago. Thank goodness for the automatic water irrigation system! Although the greenhouse won’t yield enough vegetables to feed all of us, it’s a small step to promote healthy living and a lot of enjoyment.

Camilla Chalmers – Marketing Manager

Confessions from a Bike Commuter Wannabe

We have a monthly commuter challenge at G&B. We created it to promote earth-friendly and healthy practices with an added benefit of more parking spaces. To be eligible, you must commute to work by bicycle or public transportation a minimum of 10 times a month. We draw a monthly winner from the eligible candidates for a virtual visa card.

The program has been a success. I am really happy to see a large percentage of our workforce commuting by bicycle or public transportation. I must confess, however, that I have never won the monthly commuter award. As a matter of fact, I have yet to be eligible.

I admit it. I am jealous of these commuter all stars. Why can’t I manage to join these ranks?  I drop my kids off during the school year, but what’s my excuse for the summer? I could start off with the fact that I am not a morning person. Besides….how do I pick up my morning cup of Joe on two wheels? Even when someone signed me up for a company sponsored 110-mile ride benefiting diabetes, I still couldn’t find enough motivation to string together 10 commutes in one month. Oh well, I guess I am hopeless.

John Phillips – President/CEO

If you are thinking about commuting by bike to work, we are hosting a free Bike Commute Workshop here at Grand & Benedicts on August 26, 2009. It’s open to the public and takes place between 12.30 p.m. – 1.30 p.m.  More information can be found here or you can email questions to our Green Team at You can also register your company team in the Portland Bike Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commute Challenge.
Here are some links to some of our favorite bike companies in Portland as well as nationally.

CARB – What will you do?

It’s said that eliminating carbohydrates (CARB) from your diet will help you achieve your desired weight. For me the thought of shrinking from a 38 (probably 40) to a 34 inch waist seems pretty appealing. That along with the idea of eating nothing but protein, for a guy who spent the last 20+ years in Nebraska sounds like a great idea. Where’s the beef?

In California, CARB has taken on a whole new meaning, one that affects us all as we consider store environments, store fixtures and toxic emissions. Recently, California enacted new CARB – ISTM standards which eliminate formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products such as plywood (ply), particle board (pb) and medium density fiberboard (mdf). All three of which are commonly used in the design & construction of custom store fixtures & retail environments. This new law went into effect on July 1st and basically says that any new product containing composite wood (ply, pb & mdf), built after Jan 1st, 2009 and residing in California must be free of formaldehyde.

Sounds simple?

Not so fast. As a manufacturer we understand these new standards, and have appropriate materials available to respond but ultimately the decision becomes yours, our clients, and not ours. We feel obligated to inform and educate but our clients must ultimately decide whether to make these CARB friendly materials their specification.

The question becomes should we build two sets of products; one for California and another for the rest of the country? Some have chosen to take that path but immediately you can feel the pain (much like my pain when I say no to that hot slice of oven baked bread) of managing two sets of inventories while monitoring your construction schedule. It can be done but it is difficult. CARB compliant materials are more expensive (go figure) but the good news is that it is not significant (maybe $3 per 4×8 sheet).

For me, I can’t go totally CARB free – must have bread, pasta and an occasional high CARB beverage, but for you, our clients,  we recommend that you consider making the switch to CARB compliant materials (the EPA is considering a petition for national standards & other states may implement on their own as well).

Give us a call today, we’re happy to address any questions that you may have about CARB and how it affects you. Together we can develop a CARB compliant solution for your store program that works for you and makes sense. Me, I’ll have to find another way of getting into 34s.

Paul Fullmer  – Business Development Manager

“Just Say No”

It’s around mile 65 of the Tour de Cure that I start asking myself, “how did I get myself into this?” After almost 4 hours in the saddle, with heat temperatures soaring in the 90’s and a 1400 ft. climb ahead of me, I don’t have to think long to ponder the answer. One of the greatest parts of our company’s active culture is its ability to coax people into attempting physical feats they may or may not want to do. I, myself, am an easy mark. Combine this peer pressure with my competitiveness and my inability to “just say no“, and usually this spells an inevitable recipe for soreness to follow at some point.

This has led to multiple summits of the Cascades, decades of running the 196-mile Hood to Coast Relay, marathons and, in a couple of hours, my first century ride (bike lingo for 100 miles).

Portland is a bike-crazy city. It has the highest bike commuter percentage in the United States. As a native Portlander, it was only a matter of time that I join the ranks of the two wheel club. The jury is still out on my ability to commute to work without four wheels…more on that later.

The bulk of our training came from lunch hour rides with co-workers as we attacked the west hills to get our climbing legs ready. In the end, everyone from Team G&B made it to the finish line. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that later in the beer garden there were already calls for the next challenge…STP (Seattle to Portland). I think a real challenge for us would be no next challenge. Oh well, here we go again…..

The Tour de Cure is a series of bicycling events in 40 states benefitting the American Diabetes Association. Team Grand & Benedicts had 18 riders that raised $2400 to help cure and prevent diabetes.

John Phillips – President/CEO


Welcome to Grand + Benedicts REtAiL LIFE blog. A collection of thoughts that highlight retail trends, stores we have completed and best practices. We look forward to your readership.

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