Going on 40 Years, Rocky River’s One World Shop Is a Local Fair Trade Pioneer

Fri 10/26 @ 7PM

The fight for workers’ rights is nothing new, and neither is One World Shop. As Cleveland’s oldest Fair Trade nonprofit, they have been providing fair trade options since 1979 while also working to educate the community about this movement.

With their annual fundraiser coming up on October 26th, CoolCleveland sat down with One World’s manager, Laura Potter-Sadowski, about the upcoming event.

CC: For those who don’t know, what is fair trade?

LPS: Fair trade is a model in business in which the artisans who are producing the goods are paid a fair and living wage instead of a typical minimum wage. Fair trade relationships are transparent and long-term, and really work to strengthen an artisan’s entire community. Fair trade funds help artisans pay for housing, health care, day care and education for their children, and ensure that their work is sustainable. At One World Shop we are a nonprofit organization who shares the same values of fair trade, so we work hard to mirror those values in our communities.

CC: You mentioned that it’s not just about the pay, but what they’re doing in their community. What else do you look at, or what are other examples of things you see besides employers just paying their works a fair wage?

LPS: So what I really love is the community aspect of it. One of my favorite artisan groups produces really beautiful hand-made sculptures. It’s a great story of longevity in their community, where they’ve grown from 20 artisans of just men, to 200 people — half of them are women who are working together to make products, so it really shows community-building. It also shows you equality for women in that they’re being incorporated and welcomed into the production line as well.

CC: Can you remember the first time you heard of fair trade, and did it resonate as much with you back then as it does now?

LPS: This is really funny as I think about this, because I actually learned about fair trade on a field trip in elementary school, and we went to a Ten Thousand Villages and I bought a really beautiful multi-colored star garland. And now that I’ve been at One World Shop for about a year, I realized in learning its history that this is the store I was at in sixth grade.

CC: That’s amazing.

LPS: So now I’m here and I’m running it, and I know exactly what that product is and I know that it was made in Bangladesh. It really overflows my heart with joy as it comes full circle.

CC: Tell us more about One World Shop.

LPS: We are really luck here. One World is a nonprofit that was started in 1979 over in Lakewood, and we moved here to Rocky River in the early 90s, and we’ve been on Detroit Road since then — 39 years. We really work to promote fair trade and also work with our community to talk about what that means, and be more than just the retail storefront that we operate.

CC: So when people do come into the store, do you find that they know about fair trade already?

LPS: It’s really fun in having such longevity that a lot of our customers are repeat and shopping here for decades, or it’s generations of family members shopping, so it’s really a treat when new people come in that don’t know about fair trade. We get to teach about our mission and what the principles are and how we are different. We love that more people are coming in and learning — that’s the goal.

CC: When they do come in and they know about fair trade, have you noticed any misconceptions or misunderstandings?

LPS: Sure, and I notice it being here in the store and being a shopper. A lot of times, when people here, fair trade, it sounds like this far-out term, and that things are going to be overpriced or too expensive for them because we talk about paying for healthcare, for scholarships, for hospitals, and all these big concepts. In reality, fair trade has been around for so long as a business model that products are available from $5 bracelets and $10 earrings to a $100 one-of-a-kind bracelet or necklace. There really is something for everyone. A lot of people also think that fair trade goods are not practical — that they’re more like art or knick-knack goods. But in reality there’s serving utensils, coffee, chocolate — which we all need to survive. There’s every-day uses here too.

CC: You guys have a fundraiser coming up on October 26th. Can you talk about that?

LPS: Sure. It is happening, quite literally, at Around the Corner right over the bridge in Lakewood. This our second year doing this. We had a great turn out last year and it was a great community builder; we are really hoping to grow it this year. Our goal is to use the funds we raise to support our outreach programs. When we run the store, we do it to promote fair trade and to continue buying from the artisans. So our fundraisers are used to bring in additional funds so that we can meet the community where they art with pop-up shops and educational visits, and be able to host more organizations in our store as well.

CC: Thank you so much, and good luck with all of the amazing work!

Buy your tickets to the celebration of Fair Trade here.

[Written by Jenna Thomas]

 

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