VIDA introduces the fair way to shop

A Freeland couple who has successfully run a fair trade wholesale business is now offering international gifts and home accessories to South End shoppers.

cutline goes here

A Freeland couple who has successfully run a fair trade wholesale business is now offering international gifts and home accessories to South End shoppers.

VIDA, Whidbey’s first fair trade retail store, opened

May 1 at 1715 B East Main St. in Freeland.

Kris and Michael Barker import high quality home furnishings and accessories from Central and South America. La Vida Verde has been around for 16 years, four on Whidbey. Once only a wholesale company with yearly sales to the public, the company is now open year round with a retail store in Freeland.

“A couple of times a year, we had a warehouse sale. We figured we are here anyway, we might as well,” Kris Barker said.

People familiar with the warehouse sale will be surprised with the broadened variety of products.

“Michael just got some incredible jewelry from Peru and Columbia; incredible silver,” Barker said.

But there are also pine lighting, cookware, furniture and ceramics. They also purchased some other arts and crafts from like-minded wholesalers to give the South Whidbey shoppers lots of variety.

“There are imports from Mexico and Germany, from all over the world, sort of world crafts,” she said.

The couple ventured into the fair trade business during a vacation in Costa Rica.

“We went on vacation and sat in some rocking chairs. We bought some and brought them back to the U.S. and sold them,” Barker recalled.

The chairs were a hit.

“We were both teachers and we said if we sell enough chairs, we can go back. So the original plan was to sell enough chairs to go to Costa Rica again,” she said.

Nowadays, the Barkers are invited to travel all over South America to buy for their business and sell products to such big name companies as Coldwater Creek. Now they cut out the middle man for South Enders to get the goods.

“We thought Whidbey could use some fair trade, too,” Barker said.

Buying at VIDA is for shoppers with a conscience. The money spent at VIDA directly affects artisans who created them. The products have not been made with unethical labor practices such as child labor.

Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to alleviate global poverty and promoting sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas. It focuses particularly on exports from developing countries.

Fair trade’s strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalized producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency.

It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.

Global fair trade sales have soared over the past decade. The increase has been particularly spectacular among fair trade labeled goods. In 2006, these sales amounted to approximately $2.3 billion worldwide, a 41 percent year-to-year increase and contributed to a better life for artisans around the world.

VIDA is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment. Call 331-4078 for more information.

Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or mmarxwheatley@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

More in Business

The Braeburn set to expand restaurant space in Langley

An expansion has been “long overdue” at The Braeburn, according to the… Continue reading

Whidbey Coffee gets new facility, director

One of Whidbey Island’s homegrown businesses is getting a double shot of… Continue reading

Island Herb in Freeland donates half of Nov. 28 sales for Giving Tuesday

Island Herb owner Lucas Jushinski is donating green of a different kind… Continue reading

Whidbey Tire Auto set to close its doors after decades of service

After serving South Whidbey since 1980, Whidbey Tire & Auto owner Dana… Continue reading

Langley flower shop was inspired by ‘farm, forest and the sea’

By LORINDA KAY Special for The Record When you walk into the… Continue reading

Langley jewelry store takes inspiration from the sea

Lifelong Pacific Northwest resident Alexa Allamano has always been fascinated by the… Continue reading

Freeland business owners scoop up Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co.

Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company has new owners. Steve and Jill Rosen,… Continue reading

South Whidbey pie maker carves out slice of success

Heidi Hammer is known for her pies. Initially a treat she baked… Continue reading

Clipper Vacations to return with holiday trips

Boatloads of holiday daytrippers onboard the Victoria Clipper will touch down at… Continue reading

County coughs over new Freeland pot biz sign

Whidbey Island Cannabis Co. relocated to Freeland last week and introduced itself… Continue reading

Shipyard’s record employee boom ends following busy year, stalled project

The record employee boom at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders appears to be… Continue reading

Whidbey Doughnuts fills hole left by Basil Cafe

After nearly 10 years in business, Bayview’s popular Basil Cafe has closed… Continue reading