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    Where & How to Shop Fair Trade in Philadelphia

    If you’re anything like me, then you’ve heard quite a lot about fair trade and how super important it is. However, before hunting for fair trade retailers, I decided to research what it really meant and where to find fair trade, which is great timing for Where Can I Wednesday!

    Here’s my FAQs that (hopefully) helps you as much as it helped me!

    Photo: Creative Commons
    Photo: Creative Commons

    Fair Trade 101

    What exactly is fair trade?

    My understanding was that fair trade meant the prices offered to the farmers/workers/etc for their goods were higher, or whatever was seen as the ethical price for their products. However, it means much more than that. Fair trade heavily weighs on making sure the products you buy were produced ethically. This includes:

    • Offering fair wages
    • Safe and fair working conditions
    • Investing money gained from fair trade in community development
    • Using only democratic organizations
    • Products that promote environmental sustainability

    Does buying fair trade items mean that you’ll pay more?

    This is a common misconception that I wanted to dispel (as a college student on a budget), it’s turned me away from seeking fair trade products in the past. While you could pay more for fair trade items, it’s not a definite thing or even the norm. While it varies product to product, fair trade items are priced competitively or only a slight increase.

    What kinds of fair trade products can I look for?

    Photo: Creative Commons
    Photo: Creative Commons

    Tons of products are fair trade certified, but most popular are coffees, teas, chocolates, clothes, and fresh fruits/vegetables. However, items such as crafts and jewelry aren’t yet fair trade certified but still follow the standards.

    Basically, there’s no reason not to go out of your way to buy fair trade items; they’re competitively priced, everyday necessities  and both help the environment and impoverished areas.

    Where to Shop Fair Trade In Philadelphia

    Ready to get on board?

    I found a few fair trade stores and restaurants right here in Philly to help you get started, fair and square.

    Coffee Shops/Restaurants:

    • Green Line Café – Not only do they have delicious coffee, but also sell sandwiches, bagels, and pastries. In addition to being fair trade, these locals strive to support local groups, musicians, and artists. With four locations scattered across the city, find the one closest to you.
    • Coffee House Too – Far from being strictly a coffee shop, Coffee House Too offers delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner items with great vegetarian options. Look for them at 2514 East York Street.
    • Reed’s Coffee and Tea House – A great place to stop by if you’re looking for a homey feel, Reed’s Coffee and Tea House has everything you could want from a coffee house. Plus, it’s a tea-lover’s paradise, selling 20 different types of teas. Visit ‘em at 3802 Lancaster Ave.

    Clothing, Crafts, & Accessories:

    • Photo: Creative Commons
      Photo: Creative Commons

      Ten Thousand Villages – If you’re looking for variety, Ten Thousand Villages has it all, ranging from scarves to jewelry to household items. All their items are hand-crafted and feature the work of artisans all over the world. Located in center city, at 1122 Walnut Street and various locations. (link to locations?)

    • Mushmina – Although on the pricey side, Mushmina sells absolutely beautiful clothes, jewelry, and handbags that rival Urban Outfitters. They’re always running great sales on their products, so be sure to check in often for bargains at 1540 South Street.

    Chocolate, Fruits, & Vegetables:

    • Essene Market & Cafe – In addition to the all-organic fruits and vegetables offered, Essene Market also boasts a bakery and deli, making it a one-stop fair trade stop. It was listed as one of the best places for vegan brunch in Philly by Philly.com. Check it for yourself at 719 South 4th Street.

    Wondering how you can find more fair trade products on your own?

    • If small local stores are more your style, check out Fair Trade USA and Fair Trade Philadelphia; both websites try and keep track of the fair trade stores in the area!
    • Fair trade products aren’t only sold in small, local shops. Even large retailers like Walmart have started picking up fair trade items to sell in their stores. If you look hard at your favorite chain stores, odds are you might be able to shop fair trade too.

    Readers, what’s your favorite fair trade store?


    Catharine Gaylord

    About Catharine Gaylord

    From growing up in Damascus, Maryland to studying Marketing and Finance at Saint Joseph’s University, she got her first taste of sustainability in Elementary School when her mother went on a recycling binge and got the family on board. She assumes she'll probably be something like that when she grows up, too. She loves her other roles as a Resident Assistant and barista at Starbucks. In her spare time, she loves to go for long runs, reading Game of Thrones, and watching Hockey.

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