Smart Shopping

I love to pop into a dollar store as much as the next gal does.

I mean, who knew my life was incomplete without the odd bit of plastic crap?  When I wanted fuzzy antlers to wear to the Corus Christmas party, there was no other place to go.  For $1.25 I got the festive yet disposable look I was hoping for.

But for serious shopping I like to be a little more selective and spend more than a buck on something that wasn’t made in a Chinese sweatshop by nine year old labourers. There’s a chain of stores that has been around for a while called Ten Thousand Villages.  There’s one in London on Richmond Row and my pal Stacey and I wandered into the one on the main drag in Stratford yesterday.  Each one is a little different but they all have the same mandate: to carry handmade goods from around the world, created in a fair trade environment.  The workers are paid a fair wage and the stuff is largely made from renewable resources.  It’s win-win.  And its surprisingly affordable.  In a similar store, I bought a pair of carved, wooden hands that I gave to my Mom as a gift and a large hand that holds coasters on our coffee table – they were under $20 each.  Yesterday I found this gem.

The glasses are mine but the wooden carving of a nose and mouth was just the thing I needed upon which to perch them.  This little item comes from India and it’s about six inches tall.  Its pointy, eyeless head is perfect for resting a set of specs.  There’s a little ledge on the back that holds the arms of the glasses and frankly, it just makes me grin.  Now my glasses have a place to sit in the kitchen when they’re not in use.  I have a pair in every room because, well, I need them if I want to read anything. Just leaving them on the counter always bugged me.  Not any more.

Ten Thousand Villages also carries fair trade coffee and chocolate and a whole host of things.  There are several similar stores around. In London there’s Birdie’s Nest and Tribal Mountain Trade however I’m not aware of either one of them touting the “fair trade” aspect of their mantra.   I certainly don’t claim to only buy fair trade goods but it sure feels good to do it when it’s possible.  And now I have a new nose to show for it!