Fair Trade Success Story

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The shirt you just bought, the candy bar or bag of coffee beans – what do you know about who made them? Most Americans have no idea some of their purchases come from sweatshops or child labor. Kim Riemland (REME-LAND) takes us to a store where consumers can find an alternative and learn how their buying decisions can help change the world.

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(Locator: Tacoma, Wash.)

It began over a cup of coffee. Members of Tacoma First United Methodist Church decided to serve Fair Trade coffee at fellowship time, and later offer beans for sale.

Nat: “Five dollars. Thank you.”

It has grown to an entire Fair Trade store.

Susan Dobkins/Tacoma First United Methodist Church: “It’s a model of global trade which takes into account that profit can’t be our only motivation.”

The “Ends of the Earth” gift shop gives the community a way to see the faces and hear the stories of workers around the world.

Robert Ewing/Store Manager: “A lot of the women are single moms whose husbands have died of AIDS. Some of them have AIDS.”

These baby clothes are made by women in Ghana who call themselves the “Global Mamas.”

Robert Ewing/Store Manager: “But then when you see what this has done and given them – a lifeline. And none of this is charity. It’s all on a competitive market, but they’re guaranteed a living wage out of it.”

To be considered Fair Trade, people who make the products must receive a living wage, have safe working conditions, and not use child labor.

Robert Ewing/Store Manager: “This allows kids to go to school, you know, instead of working 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Every transaction is raising the consciousness of customers.

Mary Lynn/Customer: “I think ultimately it’s the consumer and the consumer’s choices that will change things in this world.”

The store is small, but this church hopes its impact on workers around the world will be great.


Because the store is just getting started, the church still supports it. Eventually, store profits will help expand the church’s Peace with Justice outreach.

For more information, contact the First United Methodist Church of Tacoma at 253-627-0129.