Tucked in the fresh air courtyard of Fremont Commons, a sustainably built mixed-use building at NE 46th and Fremont, is a retail outlet called "Green Dog Pet Supply." Open to the public since August 2004, Green Dog Pet Supply offers natural food and toys for Portland’s four-legged residents. Business owners Christine and Mike Mallar were initially attracted to the environmentally friendly building because it would reflect the integrity of the products they were planning to sell. The theory behind green pet supplies is very similar to green building materials. Both products earn a green label if they recycle materials otherwise headed to the landfill, originate from sustainable sources, feature non-toxic or natural ingredients and are created to have a long, useful life.
With a limited budget and the desire to extend the store’s green theme, the Mallars hired contractor Allen Schmuck of Old Wood Goods to help complete the project. Combining Schmuck’s experience in crafting furniture and interiors from reclaimed materials and the Mallars’ commitment to creating a green backdrop for their sustainable business, the collaborative effort produced an engaging and inspiring store where animals and humans alike feel comfortable.
One of the first salvaged elements you in Green Dog Pet Supply is the use of old-five and six-paneled doors as store fixtures. Along the south wall are six doors hinged together to create a display for the store’s large offering of animal collars. Suspended on the doors by wooden dowels inserted into screw eye hooks, the colorful collars look right at home with the various colored doors. Purchased at The ReBuilding Center for less than $40 per door, this arrangement is a very affordable option compared to traditional retail displays such as slot-wall or pegboard that would cost up to four times as much.
Across from this display, is another use for reclaimed doors – in the form of a well-built table. Inspired by one of the antiques near the entrance, this larger table uses two doors – a solid one for the top, and another multi-panel door cut in two to make sturdy legs.
The materials for the project not only originate from retail outlets, but from unusual places as well. Both the owners and the builder found free materials by keeping an eye out for components anywhere they saw an opportunity. Schmuck recalls driving by a pile of materials in front of a house in the Hollywood District. After checking with the owners that the items were indeed headed for the dump, Schmuck reduced their disposal fee by taking away two truck loads of doors, trim and lumber to use on the Mallars’ project.
One of the grandest displays in the store is a large built-in cabinet on the eastern wall that is constructed of materials that Schmuck and the Mallars rescued from such piles. The cabinet features salvaged materials, starting at the top where the inset shelving space is lined in cedar planks. Below the inset shelves is the top plank of the lower cabinet, fashioned from a single board that stretches almost 15 feet. Amazingly, the smooth 2"x6" was once used as a concrete form during the building’s construction. Taken from the already minimized pile of waste left by the construction of Fremont Commons (due to sustainable building techniques), the Mallars remember that the beauty of this board was encrusted with cement. "The board fit that space just perfectly," explains Christine, the joy of the serendipitous find evident in her voice.
Though many shoppers come to Green Dog Pet Supply for the sustainable and healthy line of products, they may not notice that this principle also extends to the store’s displays. This may be due to the fine craftsmanship and the imaginative reuse applications. We didn’t want the store to be too much like a "junkyard," remarks Christine. Even though there may be a dog guarding the display of treats, Green Dog Pet Supply is a lively and welcoming store, a testament to how the Mallars’ and Schmuck’s talent and creativity allow them to see opportunities, where others see piles of trash.