Posted by rockfordurbanmin

outside shot of storefront

By Stanley Campbell

It’s been six years since JustGoods fair trade store opened at 201 7th St. And business has been good.

The development of this former notorious liquor store was controversial from the start. Rockford Urban Ministries (whom I work for) wanted to move in a drug-counseling center, and we were accused of planning a “church rummage sale” at the gateway to Seventh Street.

Then director of Mid-Town District disagreed with our dreams and the City’s Building and Community Development departments denied our construction permits.

But miracles occurred! Volunteers showed up to work, and the building was transformed into a beautiful gift shop, with meeting space and consignment art gallery, all non-profit and all professionally run.

The woman that made the fair trade store happen is student Dori Kearney. She and her husband Mike gave time, energy and money to bring the store along. She’s attracted a core of volunteers who kept the place open Monday through Saturday, 10 til 6. And the support from customers and the religious community has been overwhelming.

Interest free debts will be repaid, and in a few years any “profits” will be used for good causes in the community.

Fair Trade (as opposed to “free trade”) started through missionaries who support family-owned and cooperative arts and crafts in Third World countries. The producer is assured of making a living wage. Some of you support fair-traded coffee. The small farmer or cooperative will not use pesticides or herbicides and won’t cut down the forest for their product. Fair traded coffee, tea and gift items are received from over five fair trade outlets, including Ten Thousand Villages, a mission outreach of the Mennonite Church, as well as SERRVE.

Fair-traded gifts include pottery, baskets, Christmas ornaments, toys, clothes and even furniture, some made in the USA. You gotta see how beautiful the stuff is. In fact, you can go there right now: http://www.justgoods.info/

We have volunteers to help sell fair trade items at churches, businesses, or in homes, and I want to publicly thank everyone who made this happen here on Seventh Street. Thank you all, and thank God for this miracle.