Jessica Snapp
Special to The Union

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May 20, 2013
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Grass Valley's Green Light store up-cycles goods

Those in the market for a lamp made from a used brake rotor need look no further than a new business in Grass Valley.

Green Light — Grass Valley’s newest furniture, lighting and accessories store — is a business based on up-cycling. The term up-cycling refers to the process of giving old items, destined for the trash, more value through repurposing.

The merchandise around the store is an eclectic mix of color, style and material, but it all has had a productive life, in its intended purpose before being revived as a functional work of art. Rather than being thrown away or simply recycled, items have been given a new life by Benjamin Lovett and Corisa Cobden, owners of Green Light.

“I see a lot of waste as a general contractor,” said Lovett, as he gestured to a green painted table he made from scrap lumber. “This kind of thing gets thrown away all the time.”

“I’ve always been passionate about repurposing,” Lovett said. “It is amazing what people collect over a lifetime, and most of it just ends up in the landfill.”

With a background in construction, Lovett takes pride in his ability to take a house that is in “tear-down condition, not tearing it down and rebuilding it,” he said.

“We are a consumer based economy and becoming more so,” Lovett said. “This just fills up landfills. I see anything destined for the land fill as fodder for new life.”

Adorning Green Light’s walls are Lovett’s handmade wooden frames, surrounding album covers for everything from Pink Floyd to “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Besides the up-cycling aspect of Green Light, Lovett enjoys providing an outlet for local artisans.

“It’s nice to see the local creativity,” he said. “There is a story behind everything.”

“A lady up the street makes these,” Lovett said, as he pointed to a wine glass holder fashioned from some scrap metal, wire and granite.

“Corisa does lighting,” said Lovett of his co-owner, Corisa Cobden. Hanging throughout the building are one-of-a-kind lamps made by Cobden from perforated sheet metal, zip-ties, turbine roof vents and a wide range of other up-cycled materials.

“I’m an artist doing art in a variety of forms,” Cobden said.

Lovett bragged on Cobden as he pulled Green Light’s newly city-approved sign from the back of a truck. “I think Corisa even did some of the welding,” he said of the large sign, which is made from bent, welded and coupled pipe.

The idea for Green Light was born during a home renovation project Cobden was undertaking.

“I was remodeling my house and couldn’t find anything I liked,” Cobden said. “Everything was very generic.”

“Did you see the vanity?” Cobden asked. “That was one of my designs.”

The vanity, designed by Cobden, made from a vintage treadle sewing machine cabinet by Lovett, is a centerpiece in the store.

“This store is a great thing for people to have access too,” Cobden said. “We will constantly have different inventory, very fresh.”

This is perfect for consumers who, like Cobden, are looking for one-of-a-kind items for their homes.

The theme of reconfiguration extends beyond the items for sale as even the building Green Light is housed in has been repurposed for a new life. Formerly a fuel station, the building is now painted green with sparkling-clean plate glass windows.

“This building was essentially abandoned for a lot of years,” Lovett said.

“We saw potential in reviving the space,” said Cobden.

The garage door, through which leaky, smoking cars and trucks were once pulled in for service, now can stand open, allowing a spring breeze to blow through the store.

Colfax Avenue, where Green Light is located, is being revived with new life as well. Across the parking lot from Green Light, in the building refurbished several years ago to house a Miner Moe’s Pizza, Summer Thyme’s Bakery and Deli will soon be making its new home.

“This part of town has a lot of things going on,” said Cobden, “Back Porch Market, Diego’s, the little salons and spas, this is a fun destination for people around town.”

The merchants in the area have started a business association called “The Avenue,” which Lovett said “will do collective ads, street fares, things that will bring life back to the area.”

Green Light is located at 257 Colfax Ave. in Grass Valley.

Green Light will host an open house June 8. For information, call 530-274-1147 or visit Green Light online at

Jessica Snapp is a freelance writer in Grass Valley.

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The Union Updated Jun 3, 2013 11:57AM Published Jun 3, 2013 11:59AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.