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World Crafts

Bringing Multi-Cultural Artisans to You

By Kate Minnich Writer & Designer Published: September 1, 2016 12:00 AM
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Artisans from all over the world sell their handmade wares to World Crafts through fair trade. Filled to the brim with unique and ethnically diverse items, the store has been drawing visitors to their doors since the September of 1990. Introducing the community to cultures they may never experience for themselves, World Crafts offers an entire store of original handcrafted items.

Only purchasing fair trade certified products, World Crafts ensures artisans are not taken advantage of and their products and production accurately reflect their culture. Many of the stocked items are unique, sustainable and from under represented countries. Rather than supporting countries who's products are regularly found in a department store, at World Crafts one can find items from Indonesia, India, Kenya and Nigeria. The practice not only supports the livelihood of the artists, but ensures the items are unique.

Every item sold at World Crafts is handmade and never mass produced. The fact is evident by simply walking through the store and looking at the various items. World Crafts carries something for everyone with purses, jewelry, coffee, and nick-nacks of all sorts. Metal signs adorn the walls that were made from oil drums having been cut and hammered out by the artisan. Puzzle boxes crafted from hand carved wood appear in various shapes such as an elephant or cat.

Many of the items in the shop are crafted from sustainable materials and part of the artisan's culture. The artisans usually employ materials readily available in their geographic area, such as soapstone or pieces of wood. Generally these artisans display skills that have been passed down through generations of their family and that are directly connected to their culture.

A Christmas room, ever present within the store, shows the different cultures that are represented in the store side by side. Various nativity scenes are crafted from materials native to their artisan's location. One scene was purchased from an artisan in Bethlehem and hand carved from olive wood. Other scenes display the culture of the people through the representation of the Holy Family. In a nativity scene from Peru, there is a monkey present at the manager beside Jesus rather than lamb.

The ultimate goal of fair trade is to give these artisans the opportunity to support their families. Several of the artisans live in such impoverished areas that they are only able to send one child to school at a time. More often than not, one child will attend school for three days wearing the uniform and another will attend the other two wearing the same uniform. By working with artisans in these areas, World Crafts is making it possible for a parent to better care for their entire family.

Never knowing exactly what they will find, local patrons and tourists visit World Crafts for unique and culturally diverse items. Those who find their way into the store, note the quality of the craftsmanship as well as the ability to be a part of something bigger as reasons to visit.

The volunteers who operate World Crafts are often gathered from the pool of local patrons. While the day-to-day running of the shop is completed by 30 volunteers, a dedicated, seven-member board of directors works to assure the mission is supported. The volunteers are attributed with keeping the store open -- it is up to them to show up, unlock the doors and sell the items to the customer base. World Crafts' volunteers are often customers themselves or may have learned of their mission through word of mouth. Choosing to become a volunteer is their way of further improving the lives of others and upholding the fair trade principles. The board members of World Crafts are actively engaged as most lend a hand at the store during busy times such as special events or volunteer regularly.

On every World Crafts item there is tag, clarifying the origins of the item and sometimes the material from which it has been crafted. Viewing the various pieces is like a glimpse into someone else's culture, history and family behind the product.

World Crafts is located at 13110 Emerson Road in Kidron. They are open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 330-857-0590 or visit www.worldcraftskidron.com

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