Social awareness inspires fair trade store

Kreable Young | Staff Photographer
The Chautauqua Fair Trading Company store is located on the bottom floor of the Colonnade on Bestor Plaza.

From recycled-material-made jewelry that provides income to Kenyan artisans to handmade Honduran candles that help fight domestic violence, the Chautauqua Fair Trading Company sells a variety of products to benefit charitable causes.

This summer marks the second season for the store, located across Pratt Avenue from Bailey Antiques and Interiors, below the Colonnade. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the season.

Chautauqua Bookstore Manager Earl Rothfus began selling Ten Thousand Villages products in the bookstore after visiting a store in California.

Rothfus said the quality of the items, the affordable prices and the fact that they paid artisans a fair and decent wage impressed him.

It wasn’t until last year that space opened to move the product line out of the bookstore and into a space of its own, he said.

The store sells miniature Guatemalan worry dolls and wallets and bags made from recycled, traditional Mayan clothing.

The top seller is a reversible wrap skirt, said store manager Adele Thomas. Last summer, they sold 220 in nine weeks.

Fair trade requirements include buying the products at fair prices, establishing long-term relationships with manufacturers, design collaboration with artisans and using environmentally responsible production processes.

Rothfus said he knew the store would be successful in Chautauqua due to the social consciousness of Chautauquans and the concern they show for developing societies.

“I just think it’s an idea that people who come here really appreciate,” he said.