Inside the Dewitt breezeway on Pollasky Ave in Clovis, you will find the Tagua Fair Trade store run by Debbie Tingley.
This little shop sells delightful handmade products from more than 40 countries around the world.
Tagua Fair Trade started out in the Mennonite Quilt Center in Reedley. It is run on the fair trade principle of supporting safe and empowering work conditions in impoverished or underdeveloped communities and paying promptly and fairly.
This nonprofit organization sold their products at fairs and farmer’s markets until the opportunity came available to take a small space at Fig Garden Village. Six to eight months later, they moved into a larger space in the same shopping center and now they have expanded into Old Town.
The satellite store, located at 435 Pollasky Ave Suite 103, carries unique items crafted by artisans using primarily recycled products.
“Many of these countries, in impoverished areas,” says Tingley, “they are so creative and they utilize recycled products, because they basically have to use what they have around them.”
For instance, Tingley told me, craftspeople in Haiti cut designs into the lids of old oil drums and then pound texture into it using a ball peen hammer creating beautiful works of art. Women in Bangladesh, instead of throwing their unwanted saris into the nearest landfill, use the saris to create hand towels, blankets and beaded jewelry which is sold right there at Tuaga Fair Trade.
Among other items you will find there, Tuaga carries handwoven baskets and handbags, knitted and crocheted mittens, scarves, spices, fig and other flavored vinegars, drinkware and dishes.
Another important aspect of the business, Tingley says, is that both stores are run primarily by volunteers. When they open a new store, husbands and wives volunteer their various skills in construction or design. They rely heavily on volunteerism so they can put more money into purchasing more products.
Debbie Tingley says, “[We] really [feel] strongly about empowering the lives of impoverished communities.”
For more information, go to www.taguafairtrade.org.