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Opening Acts: Unique Products, Branch Out, Solar N Stuff 

  This month, Unique Products celebrates its 10th anniversary of selling eco-friendly wares at its retail gallery (2038 Magazine St., 568-1020). "Recycling artists" Mark Kirk and Heather Macfarlane opened the store in 1999, selling green house- and kitchenware, decor such as Mardi Gras bead chandeliers, and other accessories including recycled-glass cufflinks. The artists' work has been featured on various travel programs, in national museums and as the dining room lighting at Jacques-Imo's restaurant. The Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation provided Kirk and Macfarlane with a grant for their Web site,, which launched last month.

  Unique Products now has an eco-friendly Magazine Street neighbor: Green retailers Lauren Beshel and Thiri DeVoe opened Branch Out at 2022 Magazine St. (371-5913; Beshel and DeVoe apply a "hip not hippie" mantra to the boutique, which features local and sustainable fashions for men and women. Branch Out sells organic and fair-trade cotton and wool designer brands, recycled and repurposed accessories (think seat-belt bottle openers and former billboards and bullet casings turned into haute couture), and Tencel products, which are made with lyocell, a biodegradable, wood pulp-based wearable fiber. The store also features local designers and hand-picked vintage pieces. Branch Out is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

  Also opening this month is the Northshore site of Solar N Stuff (1102 Hwy. 180, Suite D, Covington, 985-773-2459; The store features products from Solatube, which uses technology mounted on roofs to absorb sunlight, redirect it through a tube and diffuse the light throughout the inside of a home. Solar N Stuff also sells energy-saving products for homes such as solar-powered attic fans and pool heaters. The showroom is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. — Alex Woodward

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