Back in mid-March, it looked as if New Home Inc. was only a month away from opening its first store, a showroom featuring green building products and services that was planned for a 12,000-sq.-ft. space in San Rafael, California, about 30 miles north of San Francisco.
The plan is still in place, but the actual opening is taking longer than originally expected (see this Fine Homebuilding blog posted March 16). As New Home CEO Rich Rifkin explained to the Oakland Tribune for a story published this week, a shortage of investment capital has slowed the rollout of what he says will be a chain of big-box stores that not only will sell green construction products and services but compete with Home Depot and Lowe’s on price.
“We need money to get through our first stage of expansion,” Rifkin, who has put $1.4 million of own money into the business, told the paper. “You hear about these big-name people who say they are green and behind being green. But the reality is a lot of people haven’t put their money where their mouth is.”
While the New Home business strategy includes online sales, showroom launches are the current priority. The Tribune notes that the company has plans for stores in 10 Bay Area locations, each of which is expected to offer more than 200,000 environmentally friendly products and cater to homeowners as well as contractors and developers. Customers also will be able to obtain advice from professionals, join the store’s referral network, and access its educational library about green building materials. About 100,000 documents and videos will be available, along with a blogger service.
Key to its mission, the company says, is that New Home guarantees the eco-friendly provenance and sustainability of products sold in its stores, and makes it easy for customers to research options for everything from small home improvements to major projects.