Trina Kleist
Staff Writer

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May 6, 2009
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Tribal Weaver shifts to Fair Trade focus

Tribal Weaver's move from Neal Street to Mill in downtown Grass Valley both gives the funky import store more exposure and highlights a shift in goods it carries.

The recession has brought people to owners David Tannenbaum and Patricia Hurley who have introduced them to Fair Trade, Tannenbaum said Tuesday.

"That's what we're trying to emphasize," Tannenbaum said.

The international movement helps provide livable incomes to people in developing nations who have been organized into democratically operated cooperatives, according to Fair Trade International, which sets the standards used for certification. Cooperative members are able to sell their goods at prices higher than they normally get from dealers not in the Fair Trade network.

Tribal Weaver is celebrating Fair Trade by collaborating with Caroline's Coffee " which also carries Fair Trade certified beans " to offer a free cup of Fair Trade coffee and a 10 percent discount on fairly traded goods including jewelry, clothing, masks, purses and gifts. The event is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, marking both Mother's Day and international recognition of the program.

The husband-and-wife team learned about Fair Trade when people came to them offering certified products just as the economy turned sour, Tannenbaum said. They liked the global reach of the program.

"What's satisfying is being able to offer well-made, unique articles for sale that benefit us more than keeping the store open and paying our employees," Tannenbaum said.

Goods include women's clothing made by Zimbabwean mothers of disabled children; dresses from Thai women who support themselves with their sewing rather than becoming prostitutes; and hand-carved masks from Indonesian villagers.

Last year, the store's sales of goods from a women's sewing cooperative in Nepal "directly supported 12 people," Tannenbaum said.

Tribal Weaver was established in Grass Valley in 1993. Tannenbaum and Hurley bought the business five years ago and moved to the Mill Street space formerly occupied by Northern Mines Gold Works in early March, he said. The recession brought the opportunity of lower rent in the high-foot-traffic main drag downtown, he added.

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4230.


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The Union Updated May 6, 2009 05:38PM Published May 6, 2009 02:59PM Copyright 2009 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.