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Manager finds more than 'just a job' in fair trade

Rather than dreading another day at work, Lisa Ogle now wakes up each day excited to go to work as manager of Global Folk Art.

Lisa Ogle
Lisa Ogle

She knows that every time a shopper buys something there, the purchase helps someone else.

That’s the simple story of fair trade.  Global Folk Art is a nonprofit, volunteer-run fair trade shop in the Community Building at 35 W. Main in Spokane.

When Triumph bought Boeing in 2002, Lisa lost her union job as a fabricator of plane parts.  While drawing unemployment, she did some volunteering, putting to use her Boeing seamstress skills by stitching 60 pairs of curtains for her church, Dream Center.

As she began to seek new employment, Career Path Services placed her last January as a volunteer at Global Folk Art.  When Stacy Ott left as manager in June, the board offered her the job.

 “It’s not us, as Americans, against everyone else competing in a global economy, which is what I thought growing up in a union home,” she said.  “I resented other countries taking jobs away.”

Now Lisa knows jobs are not guaranteed for life and there’s more than financial comfort.   Although she has had to re-arrange her financial expectations, she said she is happier.

People shopping in the store are interested in knowing where products come from and about the conditions and people there.

“I meet many compassionate people, people who want their shopping to make a difference for someone,” Lisa said.

Along with promoting fair production and trade in low-income and disadvantaged regions of the world, Global Folk Art fosters appreciation of global cultural diversity and traditional folk arts, providing the region with fair-trade alternative gifts, imports and education.

In addition to hand crafts, it offers jewelry, clothing, cards, coffees, chocolates, baskets, textiles, masks, musical instruments, household accessories, toys, collectibles and books.

 “Fair trade is growing.  We are bringing in new vendors, using internet for shopping rather than catalogues,” Lisa said.  “More people are registering with fair trade, even more local people.”

About 15 volunteers help with sales, window displays, community networking and special events.  Some also share their perspectives to help her make the buying decisions.

“We include a balance of different cultures,” she said.

Lisa does both management and education on fair trade.

Part of the education is in interactions with people who come to the shop, and part is in church and community events.

Global Folk Art also does off-site sales for special events like Pig-Out at the Park, the Fall Folk Fest and alternative gift sales.

Global Folk Art closed and Kizuri is now the fair trade shop at 35 W. Main

By Mary Stamp, The Fig Tree - Copyright © December 2005