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May 13, 2004

'Fair Trade' in New Smyrna Beach


The Observer,  New Smyrna Beach, Florida

NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Do you know what Fair Trade is?  Do you confuse Fair Trade and Free Trade?

Fair Trade is a worldwide program that seeks to promote the products of workers and artisans while recognizing their rights to fair and equitable treatment as laborers.  Buying from Fair Trade merchants insures that the products have not been created as a result of child labor, sweat ships, forced labor, or other equally heinous practices.

 Fair Trade is not to be confused with Free Trade, which is a legal and political term for agreements between nations involving tariffs and trade.  NAFTA is an example of Free Trade.

New Smyrna Beach held a celebration promoting Fair Trade Saturday, sponsored by Global Crafts, one of only seven Fair Trade Federation members in all of Florida.  Global Crafts, 300 Flagler Ave., is owned and run by Renice Jones and husband Kevin Ward.

After volunteering to help locals in Kenya, Jones and Ward returned to Florida with the idea of opening a Fair Trade business.  They made New Smyrna Beach their home and opened Global Crafts, while maintaining the ability to sell and ship to Fair Trade distributors and consumers around the world.

"Part of the role of being in Fair Trade is education, and this event goes with that," Ward explained.  "We don't just want to use New Smyrna Beach as somewhere to ship from, we want to have a presence here."

When asked about what set this whole wheel in motion, Jones confided that a heart-breaking poster, illustrating the genocide crisis in Rwanda, motivated her to quit 20 years of corporate America and join the Peace Corps.

"I wanted to help," Jones said. "I knew there had to be a better way to assist the people there."

However, the biggest challenge Jones and Ward have confronted is educating the local public on the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade.

"It's hard trying to convince people that these products are not in competition with mainstream corporations," Jones explained.

Carol Millenson, a local to New Smyrna Beach who attended the celebration commented on the shop.  "I like the variety of cultures that are displayed, and what it represents.  I like that it's found its place here, since New Smyrna has so many kinds of people."

Global Crafts was not the only business present at the celebration.  Holly Baker, a spokesperson for the Far Workers Association of Florida, distributed information about her group.

"I'm here to show that farm workers support Fair Trade.  Free Trade policies, however, keep domestic farm worker wages down and contributes to job insecurity," Baker said.


Chris and Roger Miller, who manned the concession booth, own the new-age shop, Chris' Place.

"We think it's important to support other businesses of Flagler Avenue," Chris laughed as she handed out organic coffee samples and information on Fair Trade.

The celebration featured a local African dance group lead by Yvette Harley.  A local to New Smyrna Beach since 1997, Harley explained her reasons for supporting Global Crafts' Fair Trade celebration.  "I fell in love with [Global Crafts] the first time I stepped into the store," Harley announced to a gathering crowd of spectators.

The young dancers, which included two of Harley's own children, performed a variety of moves narrating events in an African village, such as a Wedding Dance and a Harvest Dance, to name a few.

The Ngoma (Thunder) Drummers from Jacksonville, accompanied by the Heritage African-American Dancers topped off the evening with colorful and energetic displays of talent and African style.

Overall, the even was a success in promoting awareness of Fair Trade and New Smyrna's own Fair Trade shop, Global Crafts.

To access Global Crafts online store, go to www.globalcrafts.org or call them at 424-1662.  For more information on Fair Trade, go to www.fairtradefederation.org.

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