When Jeff Hornaday opened the Hemp Shak several years ago, he wanted to bring renewable, sustainable resources into the mainstream of SLO County lifestyles. He offered clothing, skincare products, shoes, and even food, all produced from a plant that rivaled cotton for its versatility, and beat it hands down for its environmental friendliness.
- PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER GARDNER
- ITâ€™S EASY BEING GREEN : From the man who brought you the Hemp Shak comes Jeff Hornadayâ€™s latest foray into sustainability, Bambu Batu, a tropical boutique of bamboo furniture, kitchenware, home dÃˆcor, bicycles, and even silky-soft bamboo clothing!
The store was â€” and is â€” a success, as its current owners can attest. Since selling the Shak, Hornaday has traveled the world, taught English, fallen in love, and become a journalist (yes, he is the same Jeff Hornaday whose words, until recently, graced the very pages of this newspaper). Heâ€™s all grown up now and ready again for retail, only this time peddling products made from perhaps the most versatile and elegant renewable resource of them all â€” bamboo. His new store, Bambu Batu in Grover Beach, is a veritable paradise of sustainability.
Â First, a little background on bamboo: Though itâ€™s technically a grass, this fast-growing plant is stronger than oak or maple, and can be harvested every three years. It grows in a variety of climates, requires very little attention, and actually emits more oxygen into the air than most plant life. Cultures have revered bamboo for its beauty and adaptability for thousands of years. It has been variously known as a symbol for long life, friendship, good luck, and nobility. And maybe best of all, itâ€™s incredibly inexpensive. Bambooâ€™s affordability makes it an ideal product for furniture, kitchenware, ornamentation, and even clothing. One last thing â€” â€œbambu batuâ€? is Malay for bamboo.
Â Hornadayâ€™s store is a sun-soaked tropical showcase of bamboo products. Lightweight furniture and towering, flowering plants fill the room. Heâ€™s got sofas, lounge chairs, tables, picnic sets, shelving, and even a thatched-roof tiki bar that practically demands an impromptu happy hour. Surprisingly comfortable and undeniably good-looking, these items are ideal for outfitting a beach house, a sunroom â€” even an outdoor patio. But bamboo isnâ€™t just for furniture anymore, and Bambu Batu offers a wide variety of products to prove it â€” smooth, supple bowls, cutting boards, chopsticks, and cooking utensils add a touch of earthy stylishness to everyday kitchenware.
You can find gorgeous handbags, flutes, sake sets, picture frames, funky and stylish jewelry, even a bamboo bicycle. And if youâ€™ve never worn bamboo before, prepare to be pampered. Tough, durable bamboo also turns out to be softer than the finest Egyptian cotton, and Hornaday has plans to expand his clothing line to include under- and outerwear, towels, and bathrobes. The store also has a wide variety of tropical houseplants, bonsai trees, hand-milled soaps, and mysterious crystalline geodes.Â Â
â€œI figure bambooâ€™s a great alternative to petroleum-based products, which is a great way to get off foreign oil, just like the president said,â€? says Hornaday, who adds that thereâ€™s practically no reason not to get on the bamboo bandwagon. Itâ€™s pretty, itâ€™s affordable, itâ€™s versatile, itâ€™s renewable, and itâ€™s cheap. What more could you want out of a blade of grass? Find out by visiting Bambu Batu at the corner of 8th and Grand in Grover Beach or by calling 481-7709.
Staff Writer Alice Moss compiled this weekâ€™s Strokes & Plugs. Whatâ€™s your business all about? Send your info to [email protected].