What Are Fair Trade Stores?

Sheri Cyprus

Fair trade stores are retail shops that sell products made by people in developing countries. Their focus is on skipping middlemen in the trading process with these producers and paying them a livable wage. These stores are typically not-for-profit and run by volunteers who promote the cause of international fair trade. Stores that promote and sell fair trade items typically have a range of handcrafts and foods from developing countries. Although a fair trade store may be located anywhere in the world, this shop type is most likely to be found in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America.

Fair trade sugar.
Fair trade sugar.

Some fair trade shops display products for sale organized by country, while many others place different categories of items together. A food section may include packaged grains such as quinoa, couscous and rice as well as chocolate and coffee products. Jarred honey and packaged spices, nuts and dried fruits are other food items commonly sold in fair trade stores. Fair trade stores often sell handcrafts such as handmade jewelry, dolls, wood carvings, decorative boxes, baskets and pottery. Drums, footballs and clothing are other possibilities of goods for sale in a fair trade store.

Fair trade coffee and coffee beans.
Fair trade coffee and coffee beans.

Product labels in fair trade stores are likely to inform customers about how the store is part of a monitoring system. A fair trade system is social and political in that groups of people who care about safe working conditions and sustainable wages join together to oversee that regulations, laws and standards are met for the producers. These types of shops may be found within a shopping mall or neighborhood store environment. Oftentimes, promotion of the purpose of fair trade shops through press releases in newspapers or news broadcasts is necessary to let the public know that the goal of selling the products is to help the products' producers in developing countries.

Buying fair trade items is often a preference for people concerned with global issues and humanity as a whole. The benefits of purchasing fair trade products include knowing that someone in another country was likely to be paid fairly for his or her work and to have been treated humanely. People involved in creating and promoting fair trade stores as well as their products usually must spend time verifying through research sources that standards and regulations established to protect the craftspeople or producers have been properly met.

Packaged quinoa may be found in a fair trade store.
Packaged quinoa may be found in a fair trade store.

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