- Kevin Natapow
This is always going to be a bit of a subjective issue. For whatever reason, many of us independent retailers are not members of one or all of that many fair trade governing bodies- WFTO, FTF, etc. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many shops choose to carry products from local artisans whom they know and trust and are likely active members of the local community. Some retailers choose to carry handmade products from domestic producers/artisans whom they know and have vetted to follow guidelines that are in line with fair trade and fair labor standards. Bottom line is that you as a retailer have to believe 100% in what you are doing and also have the support of the community that supports you. Openness and transparency are expected at every level of the fair trade supply chain and should apply equally for products, vendors and resellers of any product that is being promoted as being on that same or higher level. In terms of the Fair Labor Assoc and if they should be used as a yardstick that is hard to say. If you look at the list of participating companies on the site, many we KNOW are NOT following the standards they have signed on to- Nestle is listed, as is Nike. I think it is our duty as retailers to do our own homework if we feel like something is not up to par. If we choose to carry items that are not FT certified or approved by some reputable FT body we HAVE to do our own work to decide if it fits within our mission and org values. It is extra work but necessary if we are going to continue to improve the lives of all individuals involved in the fair trade world.
- I know the session is over – but I just attended NYNOW. There is an amazing “wing” of many fair trade global/handmade products. Some wholesalers who are FT certified chose to be in other sections – Home, or Living or something else. (Broader market for them.) BUT there were many many amazing “fair trade” wholesalers with amazing products who follow FT practices, promote themselves as FT but do not have certification, cannot afford the certification, etc. Some are new wholesalers – 4-5 years old. Thoughts on those? Is it THAT expensive for the wholesalers to be certified.
- Kevin Natapow
Check out the 4th question in the Q&A archives section: https://ganeshhimaltrading.com/faqs/
- Kevin Natapow
I also shared with a bunch of you in one of the earlier sessions a questionnaire we used with wholesalers that were not FTF, WFTO, etc for one reason or another and made our own call based on their responses and openness to discuss and share with us more detailed info about their relationships, etc.
- So many were saying they can’t “afford” the certification fees. Anyone know what they are?
- Curious to know who the FT exhibitors at the show were, so went to the website to see if I could tell. No “fair trade” in the drop down menus that I can see, but I get a sizable list when I put “fair trade” in the keyword search. Does it look like it’s complete, those who were there? http://www.nynow.com/the-market/exhibitor-list/
- The FTF and WFTF had a printed list at the show – it is in the store and I can scan it in tmrw. Of course, their list is only the Certified members. I was planning to post a list of some other goodies I found.
- Lists are here: http://wfto.com/news/wfto-members-ny-now-15-19-august
- FTF and WFTO members are “verified” (certification refers to commodities). In addition to referring to Kevin’s questionnaire, check out the applications for FTF membership: https://www.fairtradefederation.org/…/application-forms/ People should be able to answer these questions if they are indeed committed to fair trade.
- FTF works really hard to keep dues low, so that we can support small fair trade businesses – membership dues start at just $250/year and scale up (SLOWLY) depending on annual sales. And I am committed to running a lean organization! (Costs and benefits of membership here:www.fairtradefederation.org/benefits.) It is true that there is time involved in the application, but we have great staff here at the FTF office who can help applicants navigate the process. Many retailers who wish to buy from non-member wholesalers simply ask the wholesalers to answer the FTF application questions anyway – it’s that kind of transparency that is the mark of fair trade practices, and is what makes the fair trade community so impressive!
In relation to dealing with vendors who are not FT “certified”- This is a doc from FTF that may be helpful in determining dues cost. I don’t know if this is specific to retailers (it does not say it is) but you would also have to know your wholesalers annual sales. Many vendors have told me they just don’t have the time to go through the process- not just the money for them… http://bit.ly/1MV5oP8