Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=196821
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Courtesy of Mata Traders

Mata Traders, which has a store at 5247 N. Clark St., is offering 15 percent off and this free tote bag as part of Green Tuesday.


Not into the chaos of corporate Christmas sales? Green Tuesday might be for you

by Amanda Koellner
Nov 30, 2011


A riot broke out over $2 waffle irons, deal-crazed shoppers ignored a dying man in a Target and a woman pepper sprayed her competition in a dramatic battle to the Xbox isle. This is Black Friday.


If you’re looking to get a head start on your Christmas shopping but don’t feel the need to fight your fellow human beings or even support corporate America, Green Deals’ weeklong Green Tuesday event might be your cup of tea.

Green Deals is a Groupon-esque website for green-approved national businesses. Until next Tuesday, the site is offering 15 to 20 products and coupons ranging from 30 to 50 percent off.

Green Deals director Jonah Mytro said he hopes the event, in its maiden voyage this year, will snowball interest in – and patronage of – environmentally friendly businesses as an alternative to Black Friday madness.

“We thought, ‘Let’s create this green event that we can promote annually, not just for Green Deals but for all green businesses,” he said. “Whether they take part in our particular event or not, green businesses can get involved.”

The site regularly runs a new deal or discount every 24 to 48 hours and also features tips and articles related to environmentally friendly practices.

“The whole concept was, we’re going to reach out to consumers regarding daily deals, but they might not be interested in what we’re promoting or selling, so let’s give them more information that they are interested in,” Mytro said. “The biggest issue with other deal sites is that you’ll go to it and you’ll know within 15 seconds whether you want that deal or not.”

Tim Calkins, professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said the year-old Green Deals will likely face the challenges seen by other deal sites, such as failure to generate future business and return customers, but the company’s niche will probably help.

“Green Deals is going after a particular type of buyer. As a result, there’s a greater opportunity to find customers who are environmentally focused and really care,” he said. “The question for Green Deals is just how big is this market.”

With 160,000 members, Green Deals’ audience is inarguably much smaller than Groupon’s 70 million members. However, 99 percent of the site’s deals are redeemed online rather than in a store or restaurant.

There’s also no minimum number of people who must buy the deal for it to be on, and there is a cap on the number of coupons and products available, unlike Groupon.

So where small businesses using a bigger deal site might find themselves overwhelmed with an influx of customers they’re not prepared for – which could result in a lower Yelp rating – companies that use Green Deals seem well prepared.

“They told us an approximate number to expect ahead of time, and they were right on,” said Christine Hutchinson, founder of Five Accessories, a Chicago-based social enterprise that offers eco and fair-trade fashion accessories. “For the small business, it’s wonderful.”

Hutchinson added that although her $40-for-$20 deal happened only a couple of weeks ago, she has already seen at least one repeat customer and is pleased with the fact that the other new customers can now be involved in Five Accessories’ social media and newsletter list.

Nichole Palumbo, owner of eco-friendly kitchenware company Stainless Cups, said the two times she’s worked with Green Deals, it has gone great.

“It’s a great opportunity for smaller businesses because it essentially allows us to pay for advertising with the stock we already have,” she said. “It still costs us money but we’re able to use what we already have to pay for it rather than put up cash.”

Palumbo said it’s difficult to tell where her site’s traffic comes from but that she definitely saw an increase in traffic and orders after doing a deal. Stainless Cups is currently offering $16.98 for $8.50 on the site as part of Green Tuesday, and Palumbo said she’s happy to be a part of it.

“Black Friday is for the Wal-Marts and the Targets of the world,” she said. “Having a Green Tuesday event is very smart, and it distances us from the mayhem and the cluster.”

Jonit Bookheim, owner of Chicago-based Mata Traders, a fair-trade fashion company, is offering a discount outside of Green Deals for Green Tuesday, which is the very thing Mytro hoped would happen with the new shopping holiday.

“I think this and Small Business Saturday are great ways to focus people on an alternative instead of going to the huge corporate stores,” said Bookheim, who is offering 15 percent off and a free tote bag with every purchase for the week.

Mytro said that customers who participate in Green Tuesday instead of Black Friday are the type of customers who would typically visit Green Deals.

“Black Friday gathers an audience for mass participation. They don’t care what they want, they just want a deal,” he said. “Our consumers think differently. You might just buy one thing, but it’s more about the message rather than the mass appeal of it.”