Enjoying socially conscious shopping in the center of Tel Aviv is finally possible. Irit Mor explores the Achoti Fair Trade Shop, a fanfare of handmade, environmentally friendly products from which both the consumer and the producer benefit.
Achoti (“my sister”) is a Fair Trade Shop offering a huge variety of original gifts, products of manual work by producers and artists from all corners of the country. Since the opening of Israel's first fair trade shop on June 12th 2009, every consumer can enjoy socially conscious shopping, i.e. purchases in which most of the profits are transferred directly to the two hundred manufacturers without the conventional commercial mark-up.
All the products are handmade from environmentally friendly materials and are produced under fair and respectful working conditions without exploitation of manufacturers or child employment. The quality of the products, their beauty, the original design of the shop and its location in the center of Tel Aviv, all offer an unusual, fascinating and enjoyable shopping experience, coupled with the rewards of contributing to the community, to a just society and economy and to a healthy environment free of exploitation. The manufacturers selling products in the shop are from diverse social groups in Israel and the region.
Shula Keshet, the CEO of Achoti Movement – For Women in Israel, initiated the establishment of the shop and led to its opening. She describes the exciting experience created by the direct interaction between customers and manufacturers. Attached to every product is a label indicating the name of the manufacturer and her personal description and huge photos of manufacturers adorn the walls of the shop.
"As opposed to the alienation that is typical of today's economy and the capitalist consumption experience, we offer another type of economy, one that produces a direct encounter between consumers and producers and mutual profit for both consumers and producers from the shopping experience. Unlike the pyramid structure of today's economy," adds Keshet, "with the wealthy capitalist at the top and producers at the bottom, at the fair trade shop the pyramid is inverted. Located at the wide top of the pyramid are the producers, and all the rest – the saleswomen, sixteen associations involved, supporting foundations and, of course, consumers - strengthen and support them."
"The current world of consumption ignores producers - they have no names, no faces and are unknown to customers. At our shop, every customer knows exactly who produced the product she bought, knows what she looks like and knows her story. This is a new type of solidarity we created when we established the Achoti – Fair Trade Shop.”