FAIRFIELD, Conn. – After a trip to Senegal with her son’s school, Christine Schwartz of Fairfield wanted to share the crafts locally that are made all over the world.
“I came home realizing that there is a lot to be said about real handcrafted items, and they were hard to find when I came back home,” Schwartz said. “After that trip, I came back realizing that there are people around the world making things locally.”
This year, she said, the timing felt right to open her 5 Oceans Fair Trade store in town to sell those items.
She offers a few made in the United States that don’t qualify as fair trade, she admitted, but by next year the goal is to have everything in the store be fair trade.
When that happens, Schwartz can go through a certification program with the Fair Trade Federation to certify her store as Fair Trade. She has already gone through a retailers program with SERRV, a wholesale group working with farms and co-ops around the world to sell their products.
In 5 Oceans, she is selling handmade items from all over the world, not just from one place, including handcrafted items, clothing, specialty chocolates and coffee. She does, however, suggests trying the coffee and chocolates before buying them, as they're not to everyone's taste and very different from American brands.
Each item in the store has a story, Schwartz said, and learning about them is one of her favorite things.
“Everyone had their own version of local,” she said. “Some of the products they’re making comes from hundreds of years of tradition, from basket weaving to the needlework on scarves and hand dying, they’ve been doing it for generations.”
This is Schwartz’s first time opening her own business, and she said its been an interesting transition. Her work is her family's “new normal” but she said she’s looking forward to making it work and sharing the items with the town.
5 Oceans Fair Trade is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The store is located at the Brick Walk at 1215 Post Road.