(Photo by Tony Abraham)
For retail businesses, there’s often a question of density or distance: do you grow the number of locations near to each other or expand the brand?
For leadership of United By Blue, with a flagship store in Old City and a reputation for doing good here, the answer is to spread. As of this summer, UBB has four stores in three cities: two in Philadelphia, one in Asbury Park and its newest location, Manhattan. (They also sell their apparel in other shops around the country).
The sustainable retailer was among the first wave of local social enterprises to receive funding from members of impact investing network Investors’ Circle Philadelphia almost exactly three years ago, when their Old City location formally opened. Two storefronts in Philadelphia conveys a commitment here but it’s interesting how quickly the brand has climbed north to put a location in New York.
The Manhattan store is already getting local attention. Free lifestyle magazine Time Out New York named it the second best store in the city last month.
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That kind of high-profile praise can translate directly into social impact for UBB, which promises to remove one pound of trash from the world’s waterways for every piece of retail sold in its stores. Exposure not only helps move product — it attracts volunteers and corporate partners, said investor John Moore.
To date, UBB has cleaned 307,284 pounds of trash from waterways. The social enterprise is currently accepting volunteers for this month’s round of cleanups, each taking place in a city UBB calls home:
- Delaware River in Philadelphia (July 12)
- Hudson River in New York City (July 19)
- Sunset Lake in Asbury Park (July 30)
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