Fair Trader is using high street tactics to promote its ethical goods. Sharon Dale reports.
Setting up a not-for-profit fair trade shop in Holmfirth was an ambitious venture and few expected it to last.
Fuelled by the best of intentions, these outlets are often let down by lack of product diversity and a poor understanding of what buyers want. Yet Fair Trader has been open for six years and is going strong thanks to a business like retail strategy and flair for choosing the right stock.
It is a community cooperative with 600 members and an impressive board made up of volunteers including business owners, corporate high fliers and professionals who are used to the cut and thrust of trading and are au fait with commercial realities. There are two paid staff, a shop manager and a deputy manager.
Michelle Brown, a board member and marketing and PR specialist, says: “Its philosophy is that you don’t have to compromise on design, function or taste to be ethical. The idea is to have desirable products that are fair trade rather than relying on customers to buy something because they want to feel like they are doing someone a favour.”
Fair Trader’s stock deliberately includes something for everyone, so there is homeware, fashion, food and toys.
Most of it comes from producers are small Fairtrade or fairly traded co-operatives in Nepal, Afghanistan, Colombia, Bolivia, Palestine and other countries.
Stand out items include the organic felt animal rugs, including Sheep the Sheepdog, £55.95, from Nepal, the pressed bamboo bowls finished with a lacquer exterior by artisans in Vietnam and the box of four Vishal candles, £9, from India. Each has a burn time of 20 hours.There is also a gorgeous new fashion collection, designed and made by Sarah Yaccabe, a fashion graduate, who is also the shop manager. The range is in vibrant, fairly-traded cotton fabric from Ghana with matching jewellery.
Sarah is chief buyer and keeps a close eye on trends and on what sells well. Fair Trader has also employed other high street tactics. It has a loyalty card so for every 1,000 points you collect you get a £10 voucher, and its branding is slick. One of the board members has a brand and image consultancy and has advised on presentation, hence the logo and shop exterior looks contemporary and enticing. The interior has also just been refurbished using layout and placement techniques employed by top retailers.
“It’s now easier for customers to find what they want and we have seen an upturn in sales a result,” says Michelle,
*Fair Trader, Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, or shop online at www.fairtrader.coop.