Opportunity and Challenge!
How do you choose what to sell in the retail shop of a human rights museum? Selecting items to sell at The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) retail store will be challenging at times but along with that challenge comes opportunity. The opportunity to share the stories of the producers, farmers, artisans and suppliers who have created products that support a cause, and, in many cases, create employment opportunities and economic development for people and communities. It is through the sale of these items that the Museum’s retail store will be part of sharing the stories of the people and the communities who benefit from this commerce.
As awareness of Fairtrade grows the range of Fairtrade products is increasing to include much more than coffee and chocolate. Fairtrade handicrafts including baskets, handbags, instruments, stationary and artwork.
One of the recent additions to the Human Rights Collection is the Fairtrade mini soccer balls, which are made in Pakistan and imported to Canada by Social Conscience, a Vancouver-based business. They work to change the lives of others by breaking the cycle of poverty and provide guaranteed fair wages to employees. Social Conscience meets Canadian and International Fairtrade standards and the sports balls bear the Fairtrade certification mark.
What does it mean when you see the Fairtrade symbol on items you are purchasing?
The FAIRTRADE Mark is a registered certification label for products sourced from producers in developing countries.
For a product to display the FAIRTRADE Mark it must meet international Fairtrade standards which are set by the international certification body Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). These standards are agreed through a process of research and consultation with key participants in the Fairtrade scheme, including producers themselves, traders, NGOs, academic institutions and labelling organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation. Producers certified as Fairtrade must adhere to basic labour standards, including the conventions set out by the International Labour Organization, a UN specialized agency which seeks to promote labour rights.
When buying products that carry the Fairtrade label, you can rest assured that the grower has received a fair price and that his or her community may be benefitting from the Fairtrade Premium.
Patrons of the Museum who visit the store can purchase something unique or special to take with them as reminder of their visit or to extend the learning experience. Books and educational materials will be an integral part of the business, making up more than a quarter of the product mix in the museum store. The books and educational materials will be on the subject of human rights, for readers of all ages.
One of the most exciting opportunities for me as the retail manager has been coordinating the book sales for the Fragile Freedoms lecture series and meeting distinguished authors such as A.C. Grayling, Martha Nussbaum and CBC Ideas host Paul Kennedy. It will be a thrill to participate as a bookseller for the remaining lectures in this series as well as other literary events and public programming that will be held at the CMHR over the coming weeks, months and years.
Philosopher Anthony Grayling autographs copies of his books during the first presentation of the Fragile Freedoms Lecture Series on September 16, 2013.(Photo Credit: Aaron Cohen / CMHR)
Selecting the books and merchandise to be sold at the Human Rights museum store will be a rewarding project to be involved in and I look forward to the opportunities to discover and share more of the human rights stories that will be told through the work of authors, storytellers, artists and craftspeople.