Global Village, Peroria Heights, IL
by Tara Dunsmore
As a new feature of our blog, we will be featuring one of our retail partners each month. We encourage you to visit and support our partners in their businesses as their support is vital to the success of UPAVIM Crafts and the organization as a whole!
For our first interview, I spoke with Rebecca Carey of Global Village in Peoria Heights, IL. Rebecca is the Board Member in charge of Purchasing & Facebook for the Global Village Shop. Below are some of the topics Rebecca and I talked about, if you would like to learn more about Global Village or check out what products they have to offer, please visit their website and ‘like’ them on Facebook!
About Global Village
Global Village is a not-for-profit retail store in Peoria Heights, IL. We are the only dedicated Fair Trade store in our tri-county area. We carry Fair Trade coffee, tea, chocolate, as well as an expanding line of snack and food staples. We also carry craft items, jewelry, and accessories. We have merchandise from 30-35 different countries, many items made of recycled materials. We are all volunteer staff–our board of directors and our shop volunteers. Many are involved in the Peace and Social Justice Movement. Our volunteers are our best customers! We also have several churches who support us and hold sales for us at Christmas time.
About the Global Village partnership with UPAVIM Crafts
UPAVIM predates me in the store. I love knowing that everything I see in the shop has been made by human hands. I love that the co-ops that we buy from are democratically run and provide economic opportunities for women as well as men. I love that the Fair Trade premium helps build what the community needs–whether it’s a school or a health clinic or infrastructure. Some high level member of an NGO is not telling the community what s/he thinks the community needs. I love that we are helping preserve indigenous crafts. And I love that every item in Global Village has a story behind it, whether I know all the stories or not. Sometimes when I am alone in the shop, I can feel all of these artisans and farmers around me, kinda talking among themselves. –Of course, the downside (if it is a downside…): I tend to worry about these people when disasters hit. Typhoon in the Philippines–oh, let me check the map! Not near any our producers… Monsoons in Mumbai–I am checking websites to see how much damage was done to our producers.
And, I’ve been deeply moved by the stories of violence and grief that you have been posting on your UPAVIM blog.
About being a Fair Trade Business
Our board president, Nancy Long, and some of her Green/Social Justice friends started selling Fair Trade products from Nancy’s garage. They held a big garage sale to raise money to start the business. That was before my time. The store opened at our current location in July 2002. I started volunteering sporadically in January 2003. I became a regular fixture at Global Village when I retired in the spring of 2009. In addition to working in the store, I started updating our website and eventually became the administrator of our Facebook page. Before I knew what was happening, I was on the board. And this spring I took over purchasing.
I’ve become convinced that cooperatives are the wave of the future. Americans–well, we have all been brought up on stories of the rugged individualist, the self-made man or woman launching some lucrative business or loosing his/her shirt and then try-try-again. I think we need to build more cooperative farms and industries in our country.
We have a page of links to Fair Trade Stores in Illinois and a list of Fair Trade resources on our website.
The organization, Friends of the Third World in Ft. Wayne, IN have been our friends and mentors almost from our beginning.
Cultivating Environmental Stewardship
For several years we were involved in sponsoring reforestation projects in Haiti. One of our board members had contacts in Haiti and traveled there once a year. She left us not long after the earthquake, and we lost contact with the agencies we worked with–their officers also moved, and we could not properly vet grant proposals that we received.
Of course we recycle all our packing materials in the store, and we have volunteers who will go to schools and churches to talk about Fair Trade and sustainability.
The Global Village Community
We have a regular schedule of annual events outside Global Village. For Valentine’s Day this year, we partnered with a local florist to put Fair Trade roses on the tables of nearby restaurants. That was new for us and exciting. We do Earthday at Forest Park Nature Center, a lovely hiking and education center on the edge of Peoria Heights. We participate every June in a huge community street sale in Peoria. We also participate at international fairs at area colleges. We are doing a diversity fair this month and an trafficking awareness event next month. And that leads us into World Fair Trade Month in October. And through Facebook, we maintain community ties with other Peoria Heights merchants as well as local organizations who support women, environmental issues, and education on world affairs.
We just celebrated our 12th anniversary. Sales were down for everybody during the recession, but we are seeing monthly improvements in our sales figures. We have been doing some strategic planning for the next few years. We have been re-evaluating our inventory system, and I keep asking for more and more reports: what sells best, which areas of the store are not generating the kind of sales we want? The mix of shops and restaurants in our neighborhood have changed dramatically in the last year, and we are re-evaluating our our marketing plans. I think we are entering a period of rejuvenation. We have been picking up younger volunteers who have brought energy and fresh ideas into the shop. It’s exciting and frustrating.
Visit globalvillagepeoria.org to learn more about how you can support Global Village as a customer, volunteer or in the community.
*If you would like to learn more about how to become an UPAVIM Crafts retail partner, please visit our crafts website: www.upavimcrafts.org. For current retail partners interested in being featured on our blog, email: email@example.com.