Jeff and Amanda Randall beam as their BottleChange shop gets ready for Saturday grand opening in downtown Walla Walla. The business turns glass that otherwise would be headed for the landfill into a variety of useful and elegant items, including jewelry.
Photo by Vicki Hillhouse.
WALLA WALLA — You could say the newest business to join the retail village at Garden City Plaza captures the spirit of recycling.
In Jeff and Amanda Randall’s BottleChange operation, liquor and other glass bottles are turned into tumblers, glasses, vases, bowls — even jewelry.
With bottles recycled from local businesses and residents, they’re also making a dent — albeit a tiny one — in keeping glass from the landfill.
More on BottleChange
BottleChange will hold a grand opening 2-6 p.m. Saturday of its new retail location at Garden City Plaza, 119 W. Alder St. For more information visit bottlechange.com or follow along on Facebook.
“Our interest in doing it worked really well with the fact that we didn’t have glass recycling here,” Amanda said.
The concept initially started several years ago when the Randall’s son Shaye, came home from middle school with a newfound drive toward environmentalism.
“He came home and asked why we didn’t recycle,” Amanda said.
The Randalls decided to make a change. Along with daughter Sydney, they launched a family project website with a focus on being green. They started recycling. They even started changing grocery shopping habits to complement their newfound recycling habits. And when there was no place for glass recycling, they started looking into what they could do to re-purpose glass.
That’s when they found a process for turning wine bottles into glasses. They started with one, Jeff said.
“Amanda decided that she liked it enough that she wanted to make a whole set,” he explained.
They began making them for others. And what started with a simple question turned into a BottleChange.
After two seasons as vendors at the Downtown Farmers Market — Jeff also telecommutes as director of operations for Austin-based PubCon and Amanda is an optometric technician at Valley Vision — the family has expanded the business to a permanent location at 119 W. Alder St. A grand opening of the shop takes place Saturday.
Inside the boutique, several doors down the corridor at the entrance off Alder Street, bottles of Rogue Ale have been turned into glass tumblers. Larger bottles have become vases. And just to ensure there’s no waste with the glass, the necks of the bottles are sliced into pieces used to make decorative earrings and necklaces resembling sea glass.
The Randalls keep the secrets of the transformation process somewhat proprietarily guarded. But they describe it as a 10-step process that involves a glass diamond blade and three different materials. The conversion of a Coke bottle into a glass can take 15 to 20 minutes, Jeff said.
Many of the bottles come from local taverns and eateries.
Often, customers supply their own for custom jobs. One Hermiston regular has sent about three dozen Pendleton bottles to be made into glasses.
Jeff noted the types of glasses able to be made is altered drastically by the size of bottles. For instance, Pendleton whiskey bottles in the 750 ml size are more difficult to come by as bars buy them in 1-liter sizes. Rogue bottles in 22-ounce sizes are also often in high demand.
A few bottles for which BottleChange is always on the lookout: Belvedere, Bombay and Walla Walla Distillers.
In addition to projects for consumers, the business has also supplied items for local businesses. Recycled Seagrams gin bottles were transformed into light fixtures for the Red Monkey. Other recycled bottle projects adorn Dunham Cellars and Dowsett Family Winery, the Randalls said.
The move into the permanent space helps the company now to take the next step in building the business. With the storefront, the Randalls aim to grow their retail experience as they move into the wholesale market.
It also continues to be a family affair, with Shaye helping to cut and polish the glass, and Sydney creating jewelry, photographing and administrative angles.
The end goal is BottleChange to become a full-time focus for the founders.
“A lot of locals have come by here or to the farmers market,” Jeff said. “They get a chance to hopefully kind of rethink what they throw away.”
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8321.