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Chester County Press

State & Union: United by style and responsibility

03/11/2015 10:37AM ● By Richard Gaw

Blue, the official dog of the newly-opened State & Union in Kennett Square, admires a young passerby

At its grand opening launch party last Friday night, the hundreds of people who visited State & Union over the course of four hours may have walked in the door thinking they would stop and listen to some music by the Sin City Band and nibble on some goodies, but its a certainty that many left knowing that this new store on State Street in Kennett Square is not just here to sell t-shirts and hiking boots.

Inspired by the work of United By Blue, a Philadelphia-based responsible outdoor clothing and accessory company, State & Union owner Doug Harris has outfitted his inventory with items from the company and adapted its mission. Founded by 2007 Kennett High School graduate Mike Cangi and Brian Linton, whose business model is patterned on the "people, planet, profit" concept. Harris said that after just a few talks with Cangi and Linton, he was moved to change the direction of his store after hearing that the United by Blue's mission is, "For every product sold, United By Blue will remove one pound of trash from our world's oceans and waterways."

Through their organized volunteer clean ups all over the United States, over 200,000 pounds of trash has been picked up by hand, by over 4,000 volunteers in 21 states, in just under five years.

This was not Harris' first introduction to United By Blue. He had some of its inventory in his former store, Eco Boutique, but while he was handling family responsibilities over the last few years, he lost touch with Cangi and Linton. During that time, the company had soared, in both profits and its message.

"When when I called them about one year ago, I told them, 'I feel like I missed the boat,'・ Harris said. "They told me, 'You didn't miss the boat. Hop on up and climb aboard.' I went to their Philadelphia store and about flipped straight out, and by the time the evening ended, I told them, 'Guys, let's do this same concept down in Kennett Square at my store. It's the right time, and they agreed."

On the wall of State & Union, the store's mission statement reads: "State & Union is a curated collection of apparel bags and accessories from brands committed to quality, responsibility and practical style, where commerce finds a global consciousness."

"I must have been very lucky in a lot of different lifetimes, so that in this lifetime, the only appropriate response for me is gratitude, for the blessings I've had, the family that raised me, and the community I'm part of. It would be unnatural for me to just hoard [that gratitude] and count it," Harris said.

State & Union is located on 103 West State Street in Kennett Square. For more information, visit www.stateandunion.com.


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