I've never gotten up early to shop the day after Thanksgiving, and I don't know that I ever will. However, that doesn't mean I don't buy anything the first shopping weekend of the holiday season. For the last few years, it's been a tradition at our house to do some socially responsible and conscious consumerism at (as their advertising touts) "the nation’s largest Fair Trade Market" at Manchester United Methodist Church.
I think Fair Trade is a great concept. It ensures that producers (usually in Third World countries) get a fair price for their work so they can make a decent living. It prohibits child labor and forced labor, guarantees that men and women receive equal pay for equal work, and ensures safe and healthy working conditions.
The MUMC market has been held for seven years. Originally, it lasted one weekend and they brought in their merchandise from one Fair Trade store in the area. Now it lasts for two weekends and this year they had six different vendors. There was clothing, jewelry, art, musical instruments, games, home décor, food, books, toys, and holiday items from more than 50 countries for sale.
I think they had an even wider selection of goods this year than in previous years. I saw the all my favorites-the beautiful soapstone sculptures, the South American fabric throws and purses, the Peruvian alpaca scarves and hats, and the wide selection of Christmas ornaments. However, there were also beautiful (microwave safe!) dishes from Africa, packages of yummy-looking dried fruit, and handmade body-care products. The most unique item? Elephant dung paper journals and stationary!
Although a lot of the products at the Market were for women and children and my gift list skews more towards adult males, I didn't come away empty-handed. Neither did Tony! After we finished our shopping, we stopped at a small performance stage and watched some traditional dances from the country of India.
If they follow their pattern, next year's market will be held the weekend before Thanksgiving and the weekend after. If you live in the St. Louis area, it's well worth a visit.