Traditions: Local Shop Sells Fair Goods

Traditions Café and World Folk Art is an Olympia store and café hybrid that is dedicated to fair trade. Dick Meyer is the owner and visionary behind the fair trade company.

“We operate on a basis of building community, trust, and a personal connection,” Meyer said.

The Olympia location has been open since 1995. Before branching out to Olympia, Meyer worked at the thirty eight year old fair trade store location in Tacoma, Wash. that his partner Tamie Herridge now solely runs.

According to Meyer, his residency and enjoyment of Olympia’s atmosphere made Tradition’s second branch location an easy decision.

Meyer said that the idea of fair trade signifies “trade relationships based on values,” and that a key component of fair trade was ensuring that the workers whose products you buy have good, fair working conditions.

It’s all about “working long term partnerships with people,” said Meyer, who has worked to not only establish relationships with working groups in other countries but also with other members of the Fair Trade Federation.

The FTF is a group of organizations and businesses that promise to only sell products made by workers with ethical working conditions. They assist producers who are held back economically and socially by where they live.

FTF followers are interested in creating a strong and supportive fair trade community.

According to Meyer, one of the most crucial things in participating in fair trade and owning a business is transparency. He said you need to be completely open with your customers and always able to back your product so the community can have faith in what you sell.

Members of the FTF support each other in making promises to their customers. These promises ensure that the products are quality items made under the conditions of fair trade.

For Meyer, gaining contacts within the fair trade community has taken years but has been enjoyable every step of the way. There is a widespread community backing the idea of fair trade.

Many organizations and businesses comprising the FTF also participate in global social conferences. All those involved constantly share product ideas with each other and network at any chance possible. By taking proactive measures in his business Meyer said he is “100 percent devoted to fair trade.”

Six years ago, friends and employees of Meyer traveled to India in order to participate in one of these global social conferences. This trip would forever change the lives of 235 women living and working in India. Previously this working group of women had no trade relationships with the United States, and had no way to expand their market of buyers. That changed thanks to Meyer’s friends Beth and Patty in cooperation with the fair trade movement.

Now their products are imported and sold at Traditions. The women in India get to keep their healthy working conditions while making a better living.

Traditions provides a variety of vegan and vegetarian food options as well as entertainment. Traditions is host to world music performances, poetry readings, theater, and discussion forums. Some of the fair trade items sold at Traditions are wool slippers, knitted hats, and pieces of artful jewelry.