CORNELIUS – The Marketplace, a Christian fair trade store on the Grace Covenant Church campus, recently moved to a larger space with outside access, allowing the store to offer more products and extended hours.

“Most people are familiar with the fair trade practices of providing a fair living wage, good working conditions and no child or slave labor,” said Christian Fair Trade Director Marisa Sellman. “Christian fair trade simply means we partner with faith-based organizations to provide artisans in third-world nations with steady, dignified employment making products valued by consumers.”

The Marketplace’s profits are returned to the individual artisan groups through business grants that promote sustainability.

“We have already invested in computers, inventory control systems, leather sewing machines, production equipment and a custom brander,” Sellman said. “The best part is we are just getting started.”

With more than 24 partnerships in 13 third-world nations, The Marketplace features a wide variety of quality, hand-crafted products such as jewelry made in Nepal, handbags from Kenya, clothing from Thailand and candles from Swaziland.

“Each product represents a life-changing journey from hopelessness to empowerment; from being lost to experiencing the love of Christ,” Sellman said. “Our partners are creating jobs, rescuing the oppressed and empowering the poor in the name of Jesus Christ. We support their efforts with every purchase.”

Sellman, her staff, and volunteers are passionate about the artisans they serve, and they are quick to share the story behind each product in the store.

For example, Sasa Designs seeks to provide employment and fair wages to deaf artisans in Kenya. Few have an opportunity to discover their potential, work in dignity and earn a fair wage. Sasa Designs enables them to learn jewelry-making, discover their capabilities and feel productive.

Want to go?

The Marketplace is located on the backside of the campus of Grace Covenant Church, 17301 Statesville Road. The store is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays; and 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sundays.