Hooray for New Discoveries!

Around 3 p.m. yesterday I experienced the fatigue that comes from hunching over a laptop for several hours. I’d been sitting at my desk creating lesson plans and writing grants and now my shoulders ached, my eyes itched. A colleague (who is genius in many many ways) encouraged me to go to the new coffee shop next door to our office. Go stretch, she said. We knew that the Fair Trade Café on 1st Ave. near Roosevelt and Central had recently opened a second café in the Civic Space Park on ASU’s downtown campus. What we did not know is that next to the new café is The Fair Trade Store. This store took my breath away as soon as I entered. If you are that strange hybrid of fashionista like me who loves your boutique shopping with a little economic, social and environmental justice, you will love this store.

What is Fair Trade? According to the flyer for the clothing store “Fair trade guarantees producers a living wage, safe working conditions, the re-investment in communities, the empowerment of women and the prevention of child labor practices.” The clerk who I spoke to said that the purses were made from recycled newspaper, plastics, and tires. I know that sounds unattractive and maybe a little icky but the end results are funky and original creations. The clerk also said that the clothing—all of it very trendy and cute—was made by women because research shows that women who make a decent wage tend to reinvest in their local communities more than men.

How do I know where these goods were made? I don’t. My critical brain will force me to do more investigation of the store and the claims that it makes. But in general, I am all for a kinder, gentler form of capitalism.

The Fair Trade Store is having a grand opening celebration this Friday, October 2 during the First Friday art walk. In addition to clothing and purses there was jewelry, shoes, housewares, body care products and used books donated by customers. I saw books by Gloria Steinem, Amy Tan, Sherman Alexie and many others. Check them out. The store is located at 424 North Central Ave near Van Buren, downtown Phoenix.

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