Community, transparency, and accountability. At the beginning of our exciting journey into retail, these are the three tenets that we at The Fair Traders Co-operative are hanging our collective hats on. It is an approach that we believe should allow us to continue to grow as an operation whilst remaining true to our cause, invoking the same emotions and thoughts that were present in all of us during the formation of this co-operative.
What is the significance of these three? They are almost inseparable from each other in terms of importance. We are fundamentally a membership based, grass-roots enterprise, with a collective belief in ethical consumerism as an effective way of helping both local and developing world communities, something which will always form the cornerstone of our approach. We rely on, and will forever be grateful for, the invaluable contribution of volunteer members who allowed us to initially open on time, and then to continue to grow.
The store and website are proud stockists of a whole range of international and local produce from wines to stationery and jewellery, giving our community the chance to sample some of the unbelievable produce available. In addition to this we can act on behalf of smaller co-operatives and suppliers from around the world, resulting in a wider, more exclusive choice for our customers, and exposure and economic benefits to disadvantaged communities.
We are not just a retail space either. We believe that engagement with, and an understanding of, other cultures and societies can enrich our lives. We have a learning space available in our licensed premises for classes, book clubs, workshops, events, and lectures. The website enables members to participate in the governance of the Society as well as getting involved in assessing new products and suppliers. Our staff will be more than happy to discuss how either can be used to suit your needs. From wine-tasting to kids clubs, we cater for all!
The key driver behind the fair trade movement was the desire to empower farmers and producers in the selling process, ensuring a fair deal for all involved. Building on from this we aim to only work with suppliers and distributors who are proven in their sincerity to adhere to this approach.
Through our unique member’s sustainability assessment, visible on each product in-store and on the website, we can all raise our awareness of the key economic, ecological and social impacts of our purchasing habits. Every product page on the website includes a link to our forum enabling visitors to the site, be they factory workers, NGO’s, suppliers, environmental experts, or customers, to contribute to, and thus improve these assessments, moving us towards our goal of best practice in sustainability.
So once again, we would like to give many thanks to those that have played a part, no matter how large or small, in starting-up The Fair Traders Co-operative. The list of names to thank, without whom this would not have been possible, is too long to mention in the course of one blog post. However the spirit shown by our supporters, members and community reinforces our belief that the Fair Traders Co-operative can be a success and form an important part of both the Holmfirth and fair trade community for many years to come.
The opening of The Fair Traders Co-operative, is a landmark on a journey that we and a number of our members set out on many years ago. Our origins lie in the dedication of the Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group, our fellow Co-operators, and in the spirit of the Make Poverty History campaign. It is our hope that in some part through our actions and those of others, the bigger brands and retailers will change their approach for the benefit of those less fortunate than us. It is however just the beginning of our journey.