By Rachael Steineckert
For Aggie BluePrint
Heading down 100 East in Logan you might notice a bright green house with a red porch across from Federal Avenue. Walk inside and you’ll see art, sculptures, clothing, jewelry, paper, and toys, all made by artisans from around the world. You may even meet Sally Keller, owner of Global Village Gifts and one of the most energetic and warm people around.
“It is always surprising how little it takes to make a huge difference,” Keller said, who founded the store in 2005. “Maybe it was the way I was raised, but I can’t see a need and not do something about it.”
She isn’t exaggerating.
Since 2003, Keller has been working to build and run Cache Valley’s only non-profit retail store, operating it by the Fair Trade philosophy that all people deserve just payment and safe conditions for their work. Proceeds from the store’s merchandise go back to the artisans and producers, most of them in developing countries. Volunteers from the community donate their time at the cash register and to teaching customers about the people behind the objects.
“When you shop, think about who made that item,” Keller said. “What were the circumstances? Are you happy about continuing those circumstances?”
Divine Chocolate, for example, started as a cooperative to empower farmers in Ghana who were receiving minuscule payment for their cocoa. Today the company is the first farmer-owned chocolate company in the world, meaning that the farmers have direct say over the decisions, and profit, of the cocoa. Global Village carries several kinds of the company’s chocolate bars, all of which are traded fairly.
“We all have to go shopping,” Ohemeng- Tinyase, the director of the company, said. “Fair Trade is just shopping with respect.”
For Keller, the process of creating Global Village all began with a rise in awareness. When her husband began traveling to India for work, she started to think about who created the souvenirs he would bring home. When she later traveled to South America, she saw the difficult conditions in which countless women and men worked for a living. Coming back home, Keller translated her experiences into the way she shopped.
“Whatever I bought,” she said, “I wanted to know who had created it and that they had been paid justly for it. It just hit me as being right and fair.” This philosophy would catalyze a two-year process of bringing fairly traded handicrafts to Logan through the Ten Thousand Villages organization, and later breaking off into the independent store that Global Village is today.
Angie Anderson, a USU student who has volunteered at Global Village since January, says that she enjoys it because she feels that Fair Trade is a good mission and a good way of supporting underprivileged peoples.
“There are so many things to contribute to,” she said. “There are charities, non-profit organizations, etc. Sometimes I get confused at the number of possibilities and end up not doing anything. But with Fair Trade, you know it is legitimate because you know men and women are making the same amount of money, you know children are not forced to work, and you know the way you are spending your money is reliable.”
Dori Aston, a Louisiana native and volunteer of two years, said Global Village’s mission caused him to fully believe in it. “It is good knowing that people are not being exploited for someone else to make a profit,” he said.
Keller, who owns and manages Global Village, also works directly with artisans to purchase items for the store. She says she has seen the huge impact just five dollars can have on an individual struggling to make a living in a developing country.
“(Fair trade) has become a part of me,”she says. “I can’t imagine not doing it. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to visit artisan groups and see the huge difference it makes in their lives.” Maybe that is why, with little payment for herself, Keller keeps building Global Village Gifts and the Fair Trade philosophy throughout Cache Valley.
Global Village will have a booth at the May 12 Farmer’s Market in Central Park, Logan, to celebrate International Fair Trade Day. Stop by and see some of the items for sale, visit the store during business hours, or check out the website at http://www.globalvillagegifts.org/.