The One World Shop is based in St. Johns Church on the west end of Princes Street in Edinburgh. It’s a treasure trove of beautiful gifts supporting people throughout the world. If you are in Edinburgh you really should visit; but first, read on to find out a bit more about this fantastic shop...
For people who don’t know the One World Shop, tell us a little about how you started and what you do?
The One World Shop started with a humble stall. Back in 1983, a group of people got together to do something about the lack of trade justice with countries in the south. The regular stall sold a range of craft products from Bangladesh, India and Kenya from Traidcraft, which had started in 1979. The stall grew into a small shop at St John’s Church at the west end of Princes Street in Edinburgh and by 1985 had formed into a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, committed to selling and promoting fair trade products.
Over the next few years, the shop expanded to a bigger site at St John’s and started importing directly from craft organisations and enterprises in the south who were committed to social benefit. In 2002 we opened a second shop on Glasgow’s Byres Road, and we enjoyed many years of running two shops in two cities. A combination of rent increases in Glasgow and the effects of Edinburgh’s tram works on Princes Street reduced our profits drastically and we had to close our beloved Glasgow shop in 2013.
The Edinburgh shop moved over to a site at Nicolson Square in 2015 while extensive refurbishment took place in St John’s church buildings. In 2017 it moved back to its new site at St John’s with a fresh new interior and lively team of staff and volunteers.
Right now Fairtrade Fortnight is underway. What is the important message people need to understand?
This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight focuses on the challenges that climate change brings to producers and farmers in the south. They are on the frontline of the climate crisis and feel the effects most severely.
We hope people will listen to their voices this Fortnight and understand that by keeping the pressure on government and businesses, we can all play a role in ensuring farmers can benefit from fairer prices, fairer trading practices and the resources needed for tackling the climate emergency.
Tell us about your customer base?
Our customers include visitors, tourists and local, repeat customers who have known us for many years and regularly buy their gifts, soap, rice, spices, and favourite coffee from us. As we have been here for nearly 40 years, we quite often meet the children and grandchildren of customers coming in, remembering the shop as a child.
Usually, the Edinburgh Festival brings in a wonderful multitude of visitors from across the globe but sadly that has not happened in the past two years. However, we are hoping they will be back this year as the Fringe and Festival are preparing to return.
What has been the impact of Covid on the One World Shop?
Closing the shop for 3 months in 2020 was a big shock for us; we had not been closed for more than a few days at Christmas since the shop started. We put our energies into developing our online shop and encouraging our local customers to keep buying. We personally delivered orders to their doors, and it helped keep their (and our) spirits up. We also used a bicycle courier for the first time and people enjoyed that. That work paid off at Christmas when we had our best ever online sales month. It has not been at all easy though and we were fortunate to benefit from the Government grants which certainly saved the day.
Why is ethical shopping so important?
Taking time to think about what you are buying, where it has come from and who made it or grew it and then purchasing responsibly is essential for the future of our planet. We are all interconnected so we must care for the earth and the farmers and workers who grow our food and make our clothes.
Why do you use Greencity as a wholesaler?
Green City has a wonderful range of fair trade, eco-friendly and Organic products that sell very well and meet our ethos. We have been purchasing from Greenciity since we started and hope to continue for the next 40 years!
Thanks to Rachel for answering our questions! Find out more about One World Shop at www.oneworldshop.co.uk