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For all of you last-minute Christmas shoppers, long lines at department stores and crowded parking lots define the final days leading up to the 25th. But if you’re looking for something different this year, what about handmade crafts made by artisans from around the world? A local fair trade store sells just that, and is dedicated to providing these artisans and their families with income needed to survive.
[SOUND: “Here’s an interesting project.” Jones describes Indian crafts made of bicycle chains]
That’s Gary Jones, owner of Global Crafts, a global fair trade arts and crafts store in Springfield. Besides bottle openers and picture frames made from bike chains, inside his store you can find South African baskets made from telephone wire, Ethiopian necklaces made from coffee beans, even wooden Indonesian wind chimes.
[SOUND: wind chimes]
Jones orders his crafts from about 20 different wholesalers. These wholesalers pay each artisan or co-op half of an agreed amount up front to purchase raw materials, then the other half when the craft is ready for shipment. Jones says his store features items made by artisans from over 40 developing countries around the world, and says the money earned by these artisans is used for a wide range of needs.
“A lot of these ladies, most of them are ladies, are illiterate. So they’re learning their language for the first time sometimes. That’s where a lot of the money goes – not only to support them, but to improve their education, and their food, and their medical care,” Jones said.
Some of the craftspeople live right here in Ozarks. Jones points out a striped, pink and blue shoulder purse.
“This is made by some Burmese refugee ladies right here in Springfield. They didn’t know how to use an electric sewing machine, and a lady at Second Baptist Church is teaching them how to use an electric sewing machine,” Jones said.
Jones is the only full-time employee at Global Crafts, and has only two regular volunteers. Jones says he’s currently $35,000 in debt – a small price to pay, he says, for the empowerment of artisans in developing countries around the world looking for a market to sell their goods.
Global Crafts is located at 1455 S. Glenstone Avenue. You can find more information on our website, ksmu.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.