What a show!

Last night our family went to the City Opera House here in Traverse City to see the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. If you haven’t heard about them check them out. There is a documentary by the same name that tells their stories of intense war atrocities and the hope that has sprung from the band members common experiences. Watching them perform beautiful, uplifting, energetic, positive, peaceful music demonstrated the strength of the human spirit and put it all in perspective. Thank you Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars!!!

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School’s out!

Technically it’s summer here in Traverse City (although it’s a hard sell at 50 degrees!) and we are ready for the fun influx of visitors that we experience annually at this time.  I had a dream last night that we had nothing but clothes in our store and that’s not true, but we do have some really great clothing right now!  Most of our women’s clothing is being  made by a local artist, Yana Dee, who creates beautiful skirts from salvaged fabrics and has a new line of sweet bamboo and organic cotton fabrics.  Our favorite finds for men this year are cotton cargo pants and shirts from Nepal.

Our new website is in the very last stages and hopefully will be up by the time you read this: http://www.smallplanetfairtrade.com

That’s all for now.  Thanks for supporting fair trade!  Blessings.

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Spring means to me rebirth, change, unfolding…..

…..and we all about it! It is an exciting time for our business, getting ready for Earth Day celebrations on Saturday, April 25th, World Fair Trade Day on Saturday, May 9th, and a NAME CHANGE!

Months ago we knew it was time to give our business a new name. We purchased the store with the name Unity and although it is a beautiful name and sentiment we felt we needed something that was a creation of ours, just as this store has become; a reflection of who we are and what is important to us and how it connects with our customers, vendors and the artisans. Small Planet does just that and actually ties in with the idea of Unity, as we are all one on this Small Planet. Our website will be http://www.smallplanetfairtrade.com

So, Free Earth Day fun this year will include pinecone bird feeder-making for the little ones, recycled paper bead-making for older kiddos and our Community Conservation Tree for everyone to contribute to. Free chocolate and coffee will help fuel all of our hard work! This is on Saturday, April 25th.

World Fair Trade Day on Saturday, May 9th is going to be good fun with yummy fair trade treats, music and activities for everyone to help with.

Happy, happy Spring to all!

Blessings, Vicki & Art

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It smells like dirt today in Traverse City…

…and I am so grateful!  The snow is finally melting (although no breath-holding happening here) and we can see the ground a bit more.  Ahh…

With spring comes my innate inclination to purge, so we are having a big spring sale  to move some things out and make room for new.  I love how this physical house cleaning also creates space for the new on a deeper level.  Art and I are continually aligning our business practices with our values, and  one of the ways this is coming to fruition is by refining our stock to include more practical, everyday, socially-conscious items and less of the knick-knacky stuff.  This means more clothing, books, maps and useful housewares.  It’s been hard to part with the beautiful pottery and singing bowls, but we can still special order most of those things if someone wants.

The sale is now through next Saturday the 21st; here’s the skinny:

15% off all Clothing and Bags (including Maggie’s Organic Cotton socks and sleepwear)

15% off all Sterling Silver Jewelry

50% off lots of great stuff on our Clearance table

75% off all Winter Woolens – hats, scarves, gloves, etc. – they’re going fast!

We thank everyone for their support of fair trade!  Blessings, Vicki, Art, Caleb & Daisy Kinney

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Happy, Healthy, Grateful New Year!

We are so incredibly grateful for the busy holiday season we just had. Despite the economic doom and gloom, people in Northern Michigan demonstrated commitment to supporting fair trade and local business. We heard countless people say they were staying as far from the mall as they could, buying from locally-owned businesses instead. Good work Traverse City!
Now we have the joyful job of researching potential new vendors in the quest to bring in fresh merchandise. It’s really exciting to find an importer who is undoubtedly committed to the producers they work with; we get to live vicariously through their travels and know the producers though photos and stories. Enough blab, back to work!

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It’s winter in Northern Michigan!

And we’re ready (physically, if not mentally!)  We’ve got lots of beautiful winter scarves, hats, gloves, etc. from Nepal, Bolivia and Ecuador.

This year we are working with Minga Fair Trade Imports, an importer out of Wisconsin who works with artisans in Ecuador, where he lived for 10 years.  Chris, the owner of Minga, spent some time with us here in Traverse City a few weeks ago when we we able to handpick some really fun winter gear.  The best part for us, though, is to get a real connection with the producers through the folks we work with.   We bought a few pieces of carved serpentine jewelry made  by a man in Ecuador who is able to support both of his elderly parents in part with the income he gets from this jewelry.  Too often people like him don’t have an outlet for their work and can’t care for family members.  We are honored to be part of this positive trade practice that makes such a real difference.

We are also working with a company called Andesgifts.  Andesgifts is a west coast US company started and run by two brothers who lived in Bolivia.  The quality of the alpaca we are getting from them is outstanding.  Again, the beauty of the items is amazing, the prices are great, but the best part is that we (and all of our customers) get to help provide the producers a real living.  These skilled artisans who work with Andesgifts receive three to five times the national average in wages — pretty cool.   “Gracias por darnos trabajo y esperanza” (thank you for giving us work and hope) is the message the artisans send to their overseas buyers of their products.

Well, we couldn’t be happier than we are doing what we’re doing… unless you came to see us, of course!  So, for those of you who are holiday shoppers come in and check some things off that list.  If you’re not a shopper, stop in anyways, we’d still love to see you!

We don’t yet have a webstore.  Sometime in the future, perhaps.  Part of why we don’t is that we want to connect with our community face-to-face.  There are lots of good online fairtrade retailers, or you can call us to send you something that caught your eye here.

In Peace,

Vicki & Art

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A virtual feast for the mind & heart…

Unity’s Mission is to Promote Peace and Sustainable Economic Justice by Connecting Community both Locally and Globally through the Fair Trade of Goods.

We are located in downtown Traverse City, Michigan at 113 East State Street between Union and Cass Streets.  We’re set back off the street on the alley so look for a low brick building with bright orange UNITY signs!

Phone is 231.929.4228

Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Monday through Saturday.  Beginning Friday, November 28th we will be open 10 am – 8 pm Monday through Saturday and 11am – 4 pm on Sundays.

Here is a snapshop of what we carry.

  • Winter woolens; hats, gloves, scarves
  • Organic cotton, hemp and bamboo t-shirts, sleepwear, socks and undies for women and men
  • Other clothing made from salvaged fabrics
  • Sterling and jemstone jewelry as well as other unique jewelry
  • Music from a variety of local Michigan and global artists
  • Wide variety of percussion and other fun instruments from large djembe drums to shakers and panflutes from around the world
  • Peace-lovin’ bumper stickers for cars and bikes, buttons for your bags, and books for your brain
  • Re-usable shopping bags made of sustainable materials like fast-growing jute fiber
  • Bags, purses and wallets beautifully handcrafted
  • Delicious coffees, teas and chocolates, fair trade and most are certified organic
  • Home items for the kitchen and more such as cloth napkins from Guatemala and fun ceramic mugs from Vietnam
  • Handmade paper greeting cards and journals
  • Children’s books and music with positive messages, finger puppets, wooden toys and more
  • Beautiful skincare soaps and lotions made of sustainably harvested, wildcrafted and traditionally extracted shea butter with 10% of proceeds going into community enhancement projects in Africa
  • So much more!!!

Take a look inside!

More to come!

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