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One small craft store, found in Kidron, is making a difference in the lives of those all around the world. By supporting artisans in underprivileged countries, people like Lisa Zuercher and her 25 volunteers at World Crafts are working to provide a sustainable global economic system and eradicate global poverty.
World Crafts got its start in the 1980s as a part of the Orrville Gift and Thrift. In 1985, Lois Lehman began putting fair trade products in Lehman's Hardware store and discovered they were selling pretty well. When Jay Lehman decided to build a large building behind the hardware store for other business ventures, Lois saw a storefront possibility for a store that focused on fair trade products. In 1990, World Crafts became one of the first storefronts in the building.
Fair Trade focuses on the hard work of talented people trying to make a living in underdeveloped and developing countries. It provides a sustainable way of life and supports the conservation of the environment.
Lisa Zuercher, World Crafts manager, recognizes the importance of Fair Trade products and the difference it can make in the lives of an individual struggling to make ends meet. "It's all about the people making the product," said Zuercher. "We're trying to help them to support their families."
World Crafts has made it a goal to educate their customers on what Fair Trade is and the importance of supporting sustainability for underprivileged communities. "We want to educate people that they have purchasing power and the ability to make a difference in someone's life," said Zuercher.
By supporting Fair Trade, World Crafts is providing good working conditions for their artisans, no child labor, and providing opportunities for increasing income. "We are looking for the people that only make one dollar a day and increasing that to two dollars a day," said Zuercher. This could potentially be the opportunity for a parent to send their child to school or purchase a chicken to supply their family with fresh eggs.
World Crafts carries a variety of items from all over the world. Elephants carved from soapstone, design pieces made from recycled potato chip bags, and jewelry made from intricate beads fill the shelves of this small store. Each item is labeled with a tag that has a description of how it was made and where the product comes from.
Goals and Acheivements
While there are no major physical plans for expansion in the near future there are still some improvements World Crafts hopes to achieve. "We need to be better at letting people know who we are and getting the word out about Fair Trade," said Zuercher. "We want to focus more on advertising and letting people know we are here because we are small."
After 22 years, World Crafts has become well established within their community. "We have a faithful local customer base and we try to stay connected by donating products to local auctions," said Zuercher. "We want to be evolved locally as well as globally."
Zuercher owes the success of her business to three main groups: the volunteers that keep the store running, the artisans that create the products and the customers who care about where their money goes. "Without them, we would not have a store," said Zuercher.
"[By educating them,] customers realize, beyond the product there is someone trying to support themselves," said Zuercher. "We could be any gift shop, but we're not. We are a Fair Trade gift shop; giving someone who is less fortunate opportunities."
World Crafts is located at 13110 Emerson Road in Kidron. Store hours are Monday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 330-857-0590 for more information.