Store goes soup to nuts to promote solar
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | February 04,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Same Sun of Vermont plans to open a retail store on Merchants Row in Rutland in April. The store will carry goods manufactured using solar energy.
If you happen to see a can of Campbell Soup and a knit hat on display in the store window at 53 Merchants Row come April, and you scratch your head, both items will have something in common — solar energy.
Phil and Marlene Allen are taking their commitment to solar to the next level by opening Same Sun Choice.
The Allens’ retail store will carry a variety of consumer products from Vermont and around the country — all made, at least in part, using solar energy.
Phil Allen said a number of national companies have invested in solar power as part of the manufacturing process, including Campbell Soup and Crayola.
Allen promised the store will carry a “wild” selection of products.
“The only common denominator is going to be that part of the manufacturing was through solar power,” he said. “And we’re hoping by getting that on the ground level and across the street from Green Mountain Power, people will come in, understand that smart people, smart companies, go solar and that will be encouraging Vermont businesses to go solar.”
To start off, Allen will begin stocking the 1,100-square-foot store with national brands. Within two years, he said the goal is to have all Vermont products — anything from maple syrup to knit hats.
For a product to wind up on the store shelves, Allen said a company must use solar for at least a portion of the power used in the manufacturing process.
He said awareness and not profit is the motivating factor.
“It’s not all that important to me that we sell much of anything,” he said.
Allen credited landlord Mark Foley for finding a way to fill another downtown retail vacancy.
Green Mountain Power is on board with the idea as well.
“Same Sun and the Allens have already brought new life to downtown Rutland, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to improve and expand the revival of the city’s core,” Mary Powell, president and CEO of GMP, said in a statement.
“The new store is a creative and exciting connection to the Solar Capital concept, and we’re thrilled by the Allens’ commitment to the effort and downtown Rutland,” she said.
Same Sun already operates a solar energy design and installation business around the corner at 24 Center St. The company recently completed the Creek Path Solar Farm on Cleveland Avenue.
The two-year-old company has built dozens of small-scale residential and commercial projects around Rutland County and the state, including a solar array at Alderman’s Toyota on South Main Street.
GMP selected the company to build the first solar array in Rutland as part of the utility’s commitment to make Rutland the “Solar Capital of New England.”
The 150-kilowatt Creek Path Solar Farm was built on a former brownfield owned by GMP. It was completed by Same Sun last month.