An estate planning and retirement attorney by trade, Shannon Enright has always enjoyed hiking, skiing and travelling on the side. It’s this last hobby that sparked her newest adventure: opening Small Things Fair Trade, a new fair trade shop in the Woodbury Lakes retail center.
Enright has always loved learning about new cultures, but it wasn’t until an October 2017 trip to Ghana to deliver polio vaccinations and build part of a school that she first got the idea to open a fair trade store.
“While there, the wheels started turning, and when I returned home, I continued to explore,” Enright says. “Soon it became clear that opening a small fair trade shop was just the thing for me.”
With the help of friends with skills ranging from social enterprise to accounting and branding, she opened the doors of Small Things last December.
“People have been amazing,” Enright says. “Many already know about fair trade and are so happy to see our shop here in Woodbury. Some don’t know about fair trade when they walk in, and they tend to be very enthusiastic when they hear what we are up to.”
So what does “fair trade” mean? Most items in the store were made in developing countries and distributed through fair trade practices, meaning the people who create the products are paid fairly for their work and are employed in humane conditions. Enright sources some products directly from the artisans themselves and some through certified fair trade wholesalers.
In traditional, non-fair-trade supply chains, “others along the production chain get paid, but the artist or farmer at the beginning, who typically has no bargaining power, gets only pennies,” Enright says. “Fair trade allows these artisans to make a decent living, which has wonderful ripple effects throughout their families and communities.”
Enright’s shop features everything from housewares and jewelry to coffee, tea and spices from countries around the world, including Ghana, Egypt, Vietnam and Guatemala—to name just a few.
In addition to being a fair trade shop, Small Things donates 100 percent of its profits to fair trade-related charities.
“People are realizing they have power in their pocketbooks,” Enright says. “When customers see the beautiful goods in our store and realize they don’t have to choose between making a difference and having really lovely things, they get pretty excited.”
Enright has quickly been learning the ropes of running a store and diving into everything from merchandising and inventory to tax withholding and social media. She already has big plans for the future of Small Things.
“I hope the store becomes so busy, we need to expand,” she says. “The goal is to buy as much product as possible from the artisans who need to make a living, and make a profit so we can donate it out to charities in line with the fair trade mission.”
Enright is already finding fun ways to innovate, such as growing the Small Things online store and providing an exciting opportunity to create bridal registries at the shop to attract younger shoppers.
“Millennials are especially thoughtful consumers, which I find incredibly inspiring,” Enright says. “That brings me hope.”