We spoke with Kym Klopp, owner of EcoExistence in Toronto, a resourceful retailer of eco-friendly, green gifts and lifestyle goods. Kym knows saving the planet can seem a little intimidating, but believes together we can make a big difference (and we agree!). We found out how she deals with (and prevents) difficult customers in her store, what gifts are flying off her eco-shelves, and what the woman who has everything (eco) secretly hopes to be gifted this holiday season.
You carry the some of the coolest eco-brands before most people have ever heard of them. Where do you hear about and find new products?
Well, of course it helps that my friends are always sending me great ideas and suggestions. I also go to tradeshows, fairs, and any events where I share a similar vision so I can see what’s cool and new on the market. Most importantly, I listen to what my clients are looking for and spend time searching for their wants and needs.
Working in retail can be really tough. How do you blow off steam after dealing with a difficult customer?
Well I am happy to say I have not had too many difficult customers! But, every now and then, a customer will come in smelling of smoke or perfume (that’s kind of difficult right?) (definitely!), and I’ll get out and spritz Graydon’s Mist and cleanse the air in the store. I also use Juniper Ridge’s Sage to smudge the store regularly for good positive energy!
You moved your store to 766 St Clair Avenue last year. What has been the best thing, and the worst thing, about changing locations?
The best thing about my move to St. Clair is I am not just a destination store anymore. People now just walk in, and are surprised to learn things like Teflon pans are bad…or that there are many nasty chemicals in everyday skincare. They are SO happy to have found us, and are open to making changes in their lives. I find it so rewarding to help with the process!! So I’ve been feeling this renewed motivation to educate people about the many alternatives to unhealthy or wasteful conventional products.
The worst thing…well I try not to think about life in those terms…but maybe that it takes me 3 extra minutes to walk to work!
How do you decide which products get featured in the window?
We always try to feature our newest products in the window. We have so many different things in the store, so we’re always trying to show a variety. Sometimes we work with a theme, such as ‘Back to School’, and we’re now getting ready for a holiday window.
What are the hottest eco-gifts this season?
There are so many to choose from!
The Soda Stream is a really hot choice this year. It makes delicious bubbly beverages, reduces so much waste, and it’s fun to use too.
Clean, chemical free skin care is also a super popular gift. Earth Lab mascara and eye liner is always a great combo to gift girlfriends, and daughters.
One of my fave’s to give is Klean Kanteen’s Insultated Bottle (ours too!). Great for the winter season as it actually keeps your drinks piping hot up to 6 hours!
And for those who are close enough to swing by, I’ve created a variety of themed gift baskets for everyone on your list! We try to make gift giving easy around here.
What are you secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to be gifted this holiday season?
What is the biggest challenge for you personally running a retail store?
I am definitely more of a people person than a business girl… so I have to work extra hard on the behind the scenes stuff. Also, I’m not the most social media savvy person, but I realize how beneficial that can be to a business so I try my best to keep up and connect with our online community.
Regardless, I am up for any and all challenges!