If you live in Chicago, your ethical Christmas shopping just got so much easier. The Chicago Fair Trade Holiday Pop-Up Shop is open and will be open until December 23! Jennifer and I traveled home for Thanksgiving and we were able to personally visit before heading back to Los Angeles.
There are a lot of reasons we're proud to be from Chicago, including the fact that Chicago is the largest, most active fair trade city in the United States.
Led by Chicago Fair Trade (CFT), which has 80+ members and continues to grow! CFT is the largest fair trade coalition in the USA, comprised of a dedicated base of member businesses, educational institutions, congregations, non-profit organizations, and individual activists.
For the last 4 years CFT has hosted the Holiday Pop-Up, first in Bucktown for two years, and now in Lincoln Park. The result? A fun, festive space where you'll feel good about every dollar you choose to spend on meaningful gifts.
Just how invested is CFT in the success of the holiday pop-up shop and the companies in it? While we were there, Executive Director Katherine Bissell Cordova was working in the shop! That's right. From the top to the bottom, CFT is passionate about the education and promotion of fair trade in Chicago. Katherine was fabulous! Her dedication to human rights and fair trade is infectious. You can tell she's worked for social justice movements dedicated towards human rights, immigrant rights, and workers rights for over 20 years all across the world from Chicago to Guatemala to Honduras.
We had the chance to talk to her about the holiday pop-up shop and the purpose it serves.
"CFT is focused on educating people on fair trade. When they get the idea and purpose behind fair trade, the next question is always, “Where do you buy it?" The holiday pop-shop makes it so easy for everyone to find fair trade and serves as a fundraiser for the work of CFT year round," Katherine shared.
Here are 7 more reasons we are absolutely in love with the holiday pop-up shop and why you'll love it too if go! Seriously, you need to go if you live anywhere close!
1) There's fair trade products on every shelf. The Holiday Pop-Up Shop is full of fair trade products! There are 30+ companies represented. You won't know where to start first! It's so refreshing to walk into a store and know that anything you pick up to look at was made fairly and provided opportunity for its maker!
What's fair trade? Fair trade is an alternative business model that values people, the planet, and profits equally. More than 1/6th of the world’s population lives on less than $1 per day. Fair trade aims to combat this widespread poverty by providing opportunity for economically disadvantaged producers, ensuring safe working conditions and the rights of women and children, and prioritizing environmental sustainability throughout all stages of production.
2. The Holiday Pop-Up also highlights local enterprises. A few of the products in the pop up are made here in the USA by social enterprises and some do not carry a “fair trade certified” label, which we love. There's just as much support and social impact that needs to happen right in our own backyards! CFT has cultivated personal relationships with all of the vendors and has vetted them to ensure their production practices are up to the standards of justice, equity, and sustainability you would expect with fiar trade. Two favorites were Bright Endeavors, a candle-making company that employs young, local moms to keep them with their children, and BeeLove, which produces raw honey and natural skincare products while providing full-time transitional jobs to citizens returning from incarceration.
3) You'll probably stumble across something you weren't expecting. With products from 30+ countries and local Chicago enterprises, there's sure to be perfect gifts with meaning you can give to everyone on your list. For example, we are loving all the llama products we've been seeing at stores everywhere, but when we went looking for sustainable, ethical versions for our Fa La La La La La Llama Gift Guide, we learned that llamas are related to alpacas and they both have a smaller, wilder cousin called the vicuña that lives in Peru! We never expected to touch vicuña, but the holiday pop-up had sweet ornaments made by artisans in Peru from vicuña fibers! It was softer than you could possibly imagine!
4) They sell fair trade coffee! Chicago Fair Trade has paired up with business member, award winning roaster and leader in organic, fair trade coffees, Metropolis Coffee Company, the largest payer of Fair Trade premiums in Illinois! They have coffee at the pop-up shop for tasting!
And we happen to know it tastes fantastic! (There's never been a cup of organic coffee we've said no to ; ) The coffee is grown in fair trade co-operatives in Peru and Colombia, then freshly roasted and packaged right in Chicago!
5) The location is amazing. The pop-up shop is just one block west of Lincoln Park Zoo and Zoo Lights! We visited the shop and then walked over to the Zoo Lights. Having two awesome spots within walking distance is the perfect recipe for a wonderful, festive evening sure to create new memories!
6) You'll feel so welcomed by the volunteers, small business owners, and CFT members running the shop! Seriously...you'll feel all the Christmas feels here! When you stop in, you might be able to talk directly with the person passionately sourcing the products you're buying through a fair trade company. While we were there, we were able to talk with staff members of BeeLove! We would love the skin care just for its cleaner ingredients and social mission, but also connecting with the staff members spotlighted just how passionate the company is about its mission and made us respect it even more.
7) You can touch and feel the products. The soft alpaca hats, the fuzzy felt animals, the smooth, weighty soapstone animals, there's noting like getting to touch and feel the products you're thinking about buying. When we talk with our friends about shopping ethically, this is one of the most common things to be missed: walking into a store and interacting with the products! Getting that chance with the holiday pop-up shop is too awesome to be missed!
The holidays are the perfect way to give something meaningful and powerful, and this pop-up makes that easier.
"One hundred percent of the gifts have social impact, and most of them are fair trade. Eighty percent of products are produced by women and most of them are moms, so each gift means more. Every person who shops here is helping spread the message of fair trade," Katherine shared.
And that's the reason we loved the pop-up the most. It's educating everyone who stops in on the power of giving fair trade gifts with meaning and impact, and its gaining a following.
"We're starting to get more people who come in saying, 'We're so glad you're back!' because they've done holiday shopping in previous years," Katherine shared.
We can see why they are so excited.
Visit and you'll be sure to find your own reasons you love the shop. And if you do stop in, tell us! We'd love to hear about it.