At Eco Logical, 320 Main Street in Placerville, you can find a completely unique gift for an affordable price and help save the world — kind of a cool idea for consumers. Owners Jed and Danielle Thorne have gathered a plethora of handmade Fair Trade items and mixed them in with a sprinkling of locally made items for personal use, home decor and fun.
A nice blend of the whimsical and the practical, Eco Logical has handwoven handbags from Guatemala, toys made of wire, beads and cans from Africa, jewelry from the Starfish Project, pop-top purses and bangles, bags made from recycled plastic and rubber tires, wall art from Haiti made from recycled steel drums, backpacks from recycled rice bags, handmade journals and sketchbooks with eco-friendly paper, pillows, woven scarves, handmade and wrapped soaps, knitted and woven hats, headbands, pottery, handwoven cloth napkins, all kinds of small toys, keychains and even chocolate.
Why Fair Trade?
“I’ve always been environmentally concious,” said Danielle, 26. She has lived in El Dorado County since 2000 and both she and her husband are El Dorado High School graduates. “Fair Trade gives artisans a safe place to work, a fair wage and even health care. My husband and I liked to buy Fair Trade items, but we always had to go down the hill and there was a limited selection. With this store, we can bring a bigger selection to Placerville and educate people about Fair Trade.”
Fair Trade works with farmer and artisan communities in developing countries to empower them while offering unique and well-crafted products for the public. Communities are improved, nutritional needs met and the poor, especially women, are empowered. There are stories associated with many of the artisan groups, like the Starfish Project which was established to empower exploited women in Asia. Through the jewelry-making business, they are provided with an alternative employment, counseling, vocational training, health care, shelter, family education grants and language acquistion classes.
Divine Chocolate is produced by the Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative in Ghana, where Juliet Brago is a cocoa farmer. She and the other women in the cooperative used their profits to purchase a corn mill for their village.
The store was a big challenge for the couple who had no retail experience.
“The Fair Trade Federation was an invaluable resource to find wholesalers and shops,” said Danielle, “and the rewards are unsurpassed — people love the store and they love what Fair Trade stands for and that they are helping someone else when they purchase something.”
Objects made of leather and bone such as journals, wallets, napkin rings, jewelry and chopsticks are “cruelty free.”
“That means that the animal has died naturally and wasn’t killed to make the product,” said Thorne. While the jewelry, much of which is produced by the Starfish Project, is the main event, according to Thorne, “people say they come in to buy cool gifts.”
“When you purchase a product here, you make a difference,” said Danielle. “They aren’t made in a factory or by a child. You can feel the difference in a handmade product — you can tell they’re made with love.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.