In 2009, a group of people in Holmfirth, who recognised the human and environmental costs of many cheap products, set up the Fair Trader co-operative to trade with small producers, farmers and artisans around the world. That winter, in a meeting at the Huntsman Pub, individuals and groups – schools, local churches, co-operatives – signed up for membership by buying a £20 share. Others followed suit from around the world, including the USA, France, Australia and the Caribbean.
The co-op opened its store in Holmfirth on 10 June 2010, in the 1870’s Toll House by the Pack Horse Bridge over the River Holme. At a time when ‘Keep Holmfirth Special’ was campaigning to stop Tesco building a Superstore on the outskirts of the town, many local people welcomed the creation of a new, independent shop selling unusual products, The co-op also won a Yorkshire Advocate Award for ‘a significant contribution to making the world a fairer place’.
The store is volunteer-owned and run with 661 members worldwide and 29,000 hours gifted by 70 volunteers. Only 35% of small companies survive 10 years – and the co-op is rightly proud of its achievement.
“We are proud to reach this ten-year milestone and want to thank all of our supporters for their custom, especially during this challenging time,” said Fair Trader chief officer, Mark Lewis.
“Every sale empowers producers round the world, as well as local artisans and ethical brands, to build dignified livelihoods and support their families.”
The Holmfirth store – and its online shop www.fairtrader.coop – sells ethical gifts, including Fairtrade (and often organic or recycled) jewelry and accessories, homewares, food and drink, toys and stationery from over 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Bolivia, Colombia, India, Kenya and Nepal. Over the last decade, the co-op has spent £770,000 with 220 suppliers around the world.
To mark its anniversary, Fair Trader is launching a range of specially curated Gift Boxes to celebrate the people behind their products. – while the Fair Trader team is also wrapping the store in 100 meters of summer-green mesh, interwoven with boughs and leaves from local gardens to brighten up the village’s high street, as retailers and customers emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown.
Visit www.fairtrader.coop to become a member, customer, volunteer – or do all three.