Pachamama brings ‘fair trade’ items to HR

The world in a storefront

If you happen to miss out on the Alternative Gift Fair in Hood River today, or the Fair Trade Gift Sale in White Salmon on Sunday, don’t despair — Pachamama is there.

Pachamama is an owner-run cooperative featuring “fair trade” gift items, whose producers from around the world receive a living wage for their work. The store is located at 203 Second Street in Hood River, in the same storefront as the Secrets to Learning program.

Pachamama, whose name means Mother Earth in the Quechua language spoken in the Andean region of South America, is run by DeLona Campos-Davis, Karen Murphy-Mendez and Amy Hasert-Bruno. Murphy-Mendez and Campos-Davis have spearheaded the one-day Bethel United Church of Christ’s Annual Fair Trade Gift Sale in White Salmon for the past five years, and decided to expand the concept into a store that will be open daily through the holidays.

“All of us have traveled around the world, and we have a real commitment to letting people know how their dollar is being spent,” Campos-Davis said. Gift items available at Pachamama range from scarves made by a cooperative of refugee women on the border of Thailand and Burma to Christmas tree ornaments from Bangladesh.

The majority of the store’s inventory is ordered through 10,000 Villages, a long-established fair trade company.

“They have a wide variety of items,” Campos-Davis said. “And they guarantee it’s all fair trade.” In addition, the people who make the products are paid at the time the products are bought from them, not when the items are later sold in the United States or elsewhere.

An “education center” in the store provides information about fair trade issues.

“What needs to change is how people spend their dollar,” Campos-Davis said. “We want to educate people.” The store features “a big selection” of items under $10, according to Campos-Davis, and about 80 percent of the inventory sells for under $20. Complimentary fair trade coffee and hot cocoa are offered to shoppers.

Pachamama will donate a portion of its proceeds to the Secrets educational program, and any additional proceeds to Radio Tierra, the bilingual radio station that hopes to go on the air early next year.

Campos-Davis said Pachamama’s holiday season debut is a step toward what she and the other owners hope will be something more enduring.

“We hope it’ll be really successful and we’ll have to open permanently,” she said. Pachamama is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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