A new store specializing in fair trade goods is opening in Westover. Trade Roots will replace Arax Cafe (5852 Washington Blvd), which closed this summer.
All of the products in the store are handmade by people in lesser developed countries including Kenya, Guatemala, South Africa, Nepal and Madagascar. Rather than resorting to working in a sweat shop, the laborers receive a fair wage for their products and are involved with a system that helps the goods get to market in more developed nations. Many of the items are created from recycled goods and promote sustainability.
“Fair trade is huge in Europe, it’s quite big on the West Coast and I think it’s going to continue to grow here,” said owner Lisa Ostroff. “When people come in they’ll see this is not a charity. They’re all beautiful things and they secondarily help someone struggling in some of these countries.”
Ostroff has lived in Arlington for nearly 30 years and wanted to open a store that tapped into her time spent studying international relations and non-profit management.
“It sort of brings all my skills together,” said Ostroff. “I’m not able to go there and be in the Peace Corps at this time in my life, but this was a good way to help people without actually being over there.”
Fair trade coffee will be sold by the bag, and customers can sample freshly brewed java. Ostroff hopes customers will visit the store for more than picking up a birthday or holiday gift. She pointed out that some smaller items could be hostess or teacher gifts, and many of the items can simply be a personal treat.
“Think of it as a little something for yourself, because it’s not expensive,” she said.
For now, Ostroff is working to stock the last few shelves and tie up loose ends. Trade Roots will officially open once its occupancy certificate is approved, which Ostroff hopes is in the next two weeks.
“I just think this is great for Arlington. Arlington is a liberal community,” Ostroff said. “I’m actually surprised that there isn’t something like this already. I’m hoping that this really grows.”