Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic, and environmentsl justice around the world.

Choosing Fair Trade Over High Rent

8th April, 2014 - Posted by Jocelyn Boreta - 7 Comments

SF_StoreUPDATE (May 5, 2014): Thank you to everyone for your 25 years of support. Our San Francisco Noe Valley Store is now closed. Please be sure to visit us in Berkeley, CA where we will continue to offer a wide selection of beautiful, functional Fair Trade product.

This spring, we will be closing the doors of our 24th Street store due to the skyrocketing costs of running a small business in San Francisco. We stand in solidarity with the growing number of families and local businesses who have also been affected by this surge in rental rates. This closure is not a reflection on the state of Fair Trade business, but rather a reflection on the shifting face of a city that is no longer able to foster the growth of small, local businesses.

As a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation, we stand for full transparency in the global marketplace. We want you to know your purchasing power: who, where, and how your purchases affect real change. We want you to be sure that your purchases go towards supporting economic justice through Fair Trade, NOT towards covering the violently inflated cost of rent in San Francisco.

Jocelyn and weaving partners in Guatemala Photo Credit: Global Exchange, September 2012

Jocelyn and weaving partners in Guatemala Photo Credit: Global Exchange, September 2012

When I sit down with Brenda Chacach, Mayan businesswoman and Director of Maya Works, our responsibility at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores to our artisan partners remains clear. While she works hard to empower over 125 indigenous women in rural Guatemala in the production of the highest quality hand loomed cotton, we must work hard to run strong, sustainable Fair Trade stores that house their beautiful wares that provide you, the conscious consumer, the opportunity to invest in them.

For over 25 years, the Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores have taken this clear commitment to the artisan seriously and have worked hard to create thriving stores as community spaces where we can come together to celebrate and support the work of artisans around the world. Our stores are alive with the stories of prosperous cultivation, craftsmanship, and community support.

We have been in business at our San Francisco Noe Valley location (4018 24th Street) since 1989, constantly adjusting our footing in a changing marketplace. We are not immune to the forces changing the face of our San Francisco community, and the most recent wave of rent increases have also affected us, and we are taking action so that it does not affect our artisan partners around the world.

SF Fair Trade storeSo where do we go from here? For years we have been building local partnerships and securing promising opportunities through a united creation of marketplaces that support people-over-profit.

  • Our Berkeley store, open since 1991 (2840 College Ave @ Russell) will continue to offer a wide selection of beautiful, functional Fair Trade product.
  • We plan to reopen the Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store this Fall 2014
  • We are exploring options to open a new brick-and-mortar store as part of a progressive, community-based project. More details to come soon!

Thank you to the San Francisco Noe Valley community for 25-years of support. We look forward to seeing everyone at our Berkeley store and other Global Exchange events around the Bay Area. Please keep our community vibrant by continuing to support your local businesses and organizations.


7 Responses to “Choosing Fair Trade Over High Rent”

  • Kirsten Moller Kirsten

    So many great stories to tell from that store — but it is also good to know that you are holding the purpose of the store true — support for small producers and coops around the world and educating North Americans about Fair Trade. It is important work. Thank you!

  • The Fair Trade system is moving billions of dollars from wealthy consumers to low-income producers, and Global Exchange has played an important role in building that new economic system. Sad to see the San Francisco store close but it’s just part of the crazy wave of rent increases that are transforming our city.

  • I can’t tell from the article when the moving sale is over — presumably somewhat before moving day.

    I am up to ears getting ready for the Good Friday demonstration at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab which is on April 18.

    Hope I can get over the the San Francisco store after that (and still find something) I know Global Exchange will survive this move and thrive where ever you are.

  • Catarina

    This is so sad! Working there during a summer I saw how important the store was for the community! Even SF being a city that is more sustainable than most, there’s still so many who need to know the importance of the fair trade movement and the store has always been so much more than a store! It is completely understandable however and I am sure Global Exchange will continue to help the movement grow with all of its great programs! Have a good closing sale Jocelyn! Wish I could pass by!

  • Oh how sad! I know how tough it is competing with higher rent prices. We just had to close down our fair trade store here in Canada due to rent increases.

    We’ve taken to just selling online now, as it brings down the cost of operations and in turn lets us help more people.



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