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Karma And Cash

With fair trade, you can make money and help stop inhumane labor practices.

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Visitors to Traditions in Olympia, Washington, may be lured into the shop by the smell of incense or the strains of international music. They may stay to browse its collections of carved wooden animals from Kenya, lacquer pins from Russia or colorful Guatemalan shawls. They may even stop to sip a cup of environmentally correct coffee, grown by independent farmers and without damage to the environment, in the adjoining cafe. But no matter how long they stay, one thing is certain: They'll leave with an education.

That's because owner Dick Meyer's goal isn't simply to sell wonderful products--it's to promote awareness of working conditions in developing countries around the world, often by telling the stories of the artisans who produce his store's merchandise. Part of a growing international "fair trade" movement helping to develop markets for disadvantaged artisans, Meyer works with cooperatives, collectives and wholesalers worldwide to ensure that his wares are not only appealing but socially responsible.

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