Fair Trade Shops in Long Beach
The slogan “Be the change. Buy the change” is popular with Fair Trade certified retailers, which themselves have become increasingly popular with mindful consumers. So what kind of change does Fair Trade stand for? They are companies that prioritize working with partners and suppliers who ensure healthy and safe work environments for their employees, that pay a living wage and believe in investing in the community and environmental sustainability. Basically, they’re the business equivalent of a good egg. Not surprisingly, in Long Beach, a city as known for hard work, Fair Trade is a concept and a designation that’s really taken off. Here’s a few Fair Trade businesses that you can support with your dollars.
Fair Trade Long Beach Retail Collective
Founder Teresa Baxter and the many Fair Trade merchant colleagues she knew from various local marketplaces, one day decided to pool their resources to create this North Long Beach collective. Fair Trade Long Beach (4105 N. Bellflower Blvd.) is a perpetually rotating collection of one-of-a-kind items: gifts, clothing, jewelry and so much artwork that it could easily be defined as an art collective. Unique products come from all over the globe – Haitian wall art, nut jewelry from Ecuador – as well as locally, leading Baxter to call the inventory, “Glocal.” A second floor space recently opened selling hip, recycled clothing.
In many ways, the Fair Trade movement began with the fair treatment of coffee growers and their workers. Many local coffee outfits believe in and follow the Fair Trade road, which leads not only to fair treatment but often some of the best, most unique coffee on earth. A few local coffee shops following the Fair Trade model:
Black Ring Coffee Roasters
Whether it’s a straight cup of Joe or a Whiskey (nonalcoholic) Vanilla Latte, this North Long Beach shop is beloved by local coffee drinkers. They rely on ethically sourced beans from the likes of Columbia, Ethiopia and Burundi. Black Ring (5373 Long Beach Blvd.) not only works with Fair Trade partners but those who but invest in local infrastructure and, in some Central and South American communities, have built schools.
Steel Cup Cafe
Their coffee program offers a selection of specialty drinks and organic roasts made from beans that are both Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified. If it sounds like Steel Cup (2201 N. Lakewood Blvd.) takes it seriously, they do, but it doesn’t prevent them from also offering a wide selection of artisan sandwiches and wraps, colorful salads and a brunch menu that has been called decadent – Banana Bread French Toast Sticks, anyone?
This outfit takes Fair Trade a step beyond. Recreational (237 Long Beach Blvd.) pays beyond Fair Trade pricing, with their partners often paying farmers anywhere from two to three times the going Fair Trade rate. What they, and you, get in return is a brew is well-known as sweet, complex and balanced that is exceptionally delicious. Doing good, tastes good.
Does Fair Trade get any sweeter? No. No it doesn’t. You likely know of Romeo’s Chocolates (The Hangar, 4150 McGowen St.), likely have had the good fortune of enjoying their handcrafted creations or two, or six. Perhaps you’ve even had the good fortune to enjoy one of their imaginative chocolate and wine pairings. Well, it turns out these decadent pieces of heaven are made with ethically sourced cacao. Romeo’s ingredients come from European Fair Trade partners in Belgium and Ecuador, the latter supplying chocolate for its “65% Ecuadorian Chocolate Bar,” the darkest chocolate Romeo’s sells.
Not surprisingly, Long Beach’s first sustainably-driven supermarket/department store, only works with partners who pay fair wages to workers 18-years and older while providing safe working and sanitary conditions. It’s good to know that there are plenty of companies out there that fit that bill since Ethikli (352 E. Fourth St.) sells all manner of food – beans to coffee to pasta to candy – as well as bath and body products, cleaning and laundry items, pet supplies, greeting cards and clothes.
A modern lifestyle shop, combining fashion and contemporary design, Burke (435 E. First St.) offers itself as an alternative to the destructive consequences of fast fashion. Owner Maggie Stoll created her shop to support small, independent designers and brands that use sustainable practices using recycled or natural products and are fair trade certified, believing that great clothes and products can be made with humans in mind. They like to say that they offer mindful products that come from businesses practices that have the environment and people in mind.