Hands on wind

Renewable energy products, including small wind turbines, will be in a hands on display at a retail shop opening near San Francisco in early November. Real Goods Trading Corp, based in Ukiah in northern California, will also sell solar equipment and other items from its mail order catalogue, which include energy saving devices and environmentally related products.

The shop, in the progressive college town of Berkeley just east of San Francisco, will be its first urban retail outlet, although it already has an outlet in Eugene, Oregon. "We have high hopes for spreading our mission of renewable energy and sustainable living to a wider audience," says Real Goods president John Shaeffer.

Real Goods also has a flagship solar living centre in Hopland, California, which opened in May of last year (Windpower Monthly September 1996). Since then, more than 150,000 people have visited the demonstration centre and shop, which is powered by wind and solar and built with bales of rice straw covered with "adobe." The company believes it is the largest retailer of renewable energy products in the world. It eventually expects to add another six stores, all including hands on wind displays.

"A lot of our customers live in rural areas and they use renewable energy, or they have remote cabins or boats," says the company's Debbie Robertson. In March 1997, the company's revenues were $18.4 million.