As part of a global movement to encourage sustainable development, the World Fair Trade Organization each year designates the second Saturday in May as World Fair Trade Day, and locally, the event has been celebrated each year at Made By Hand in South Bethany, which specializes in fair-trade goods.
“All people should be treated with respect and dignity and paid fairly for their work and that business can be ethical and support good things,” said Kimberly Grimes, who owns Made By Hand with her husband, Marco Hernandez.
“It was in the late ’90s… Together, all of us fair-traders decided to have a World Day — kind of copying Earth Day. We thought, that way, if we had a special World Fair Trade Day, the second Saturday of every year, it would help drive attention to people to think about where they shop, how things are made.”
This year, World Fair Trade Day will be held at the shop on Saturday, May 12, from noon to 5 p.m. During that time, those who visit Made By Hand will experience a celebration of the Amazon jungle.
“We’re very excited, because every year we pick a group or a country or a region to focus on. This year is the Amazon, which is a place very near and dear to our hearts. When I was a professor at [the University of] Delaware, I used to take students abroad there, to the Peruvian part of the Amazon.”
Grimes said the director of the Center of Amazon Ecology at Penn State will be in attendance at the store all day and will be sharing “all kinds of wonderful things,” including a virtual reality tour of the Amazon.
“He filmed 360 degrees with his camera in the Amazon. He’s going to bring those so you can put them on and see what it’s like walking around in the Amazon. I’m really excited about that,” she explained. “He’s also going to bring some videos where we can watch people making things.”
There will also be a sampling of rainforest fruits for those in attendance to taste.
Kids will also be able to put together a jigsaw puzzle of Amazon images and even playing pin-the-eye-on-the-tree-frog.
“Obviously, it’s like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey,” Grimes explained with a laugh. “We’re going to put some Amazon animals in the store. The kids are going to try and figure out what animal is an amazon animal. They’re going to make a little list, and if they find all five, they win a prize.
“This is our first time we’ve had a lot of activities for all ages. I’m really excited about that,” she said.
Awareness of fair trade and practices has grown over the years, which Grimes said has a ripple effect.
“It has really grown since when we first started in 1996. We would say to people, ‘fair trade,’ and they would have no idea what we were talking about. Fortunately, 20-plus years later, we can say ‘fair trade’ and people are like, ‘Oh, yes!’” she said, adding that Made By Hand also has a one-page flyer on the topic for visitors to the store.
“We have these core values — treat people with respect and dignity. Pay people fairly. We create long-term relationships with groups. The group we started working with 22 years ago, we still work with today. When we take on new groups, it’s kind of a life-long commitment to those folks. So, they can plan… They can build a school for their community, they can help improve nutrition — all those things we want to see happen.”
Grimes said the relationships built with artisans is not simply of a business nature, but of friendship.
“Marco and I have been very fortunate in that we’ve been able to go visit many of our groups. It’s just fantastic,” she said. “Each group and each store has its own unique way of being. Every store doesn’t buy from the same group. There’s lots of producers, lots of artisans in the world. They all are members of the Fair Trade Organization. That ensures they’re making things in a democratic way, sharing the money, and all the good stuff we profess — so there’s certification there.”
Each fair-trade store is unique in its own way, which gives consumers the opportunity to find a variety of one-of-a-kind items.
“We kind of try to figure out what the local environment is. So, not every store is going to be the same. The store in the big city is going to be different from the store here in a tourist area. At the same time, we follow all the same principles while also all being unique,” she said.
The inter-personal connection with the artisans is what makes supporting the fair-trade community so special, she said.
“We try to go even further, so if they pick something up and they want to know more about it, we can tell them how it’s made, who made it, give them the phone number of the person who made it. If they want to go visit them in Guatemala, we can give them an address. That kind of real, direct connection they can feel with the person.”
Grimes said it’s important for consumers to think about where the goods they’re buying come from and in what ways they were produced.
“You can make a difference in the world with every single purchase. By just knowing who you’re buying from — just like buying from local farmers’ markets supporting our local farmers. We have all the power in how the world runs, if we just think about it and do it.”
Grimes said she hopes those in the community visit Made By Hand on Saturday to learn more about the Amazon and the importance of fair trade.
“It’s supposed to be gorgeous weather. I’m really excited. I hope a lot of people will be able to come out.”
Made By Hand is located at 34444 Coastal Highway, in York Beach Mall in South Bethany. For more information, call (302) 539-6335 or visit www.madebyhandinternationalcooperative.com.
By Maria Counts