Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.
Email Brien at email@example.com.
One of my favorite stores is one that everyone in Waukesha should be aware of. Plowshare Gifts, at the corner of Grand Ave. and Main in Downtown Waukesha, is a fair trade gift shop. Everything in the store is made by craftsmen in developing countries. People normally paid pennies for their labor are guaranteed a living wage and access to health care and education through the fair trade program.
The store, with a wide range of gifts, clothes, jewelry, coffee, musical instruments, etc. is the only one like it in Waukesha County. It's a neat educational experience to see and feel the crafts made around the world. It's truly amazing what some people can do with soapstone, or recycled plastic, steel and aluminum, or clay, brass, native woods... This week I bought two small, hinged, inlayed wooden boxes from India. Just to UPS a box across town would be a minimum of $4.00. I only paid three dollars for each box (there's two more left). For the price of one beer at Miller Park, I left with two beautiful, handcrafted items made by someone in India who I know was paid a living wage. I don't know how it's possible, it just is.
The store is non-profit and volunteers help staff it, keeping prices low. There's so much to see and bargains to be had, but my favorite are the Tibetan singing bowls, something you won't find at Walmart.
A couple years ago my son's class sold fair trade chocolate from the store to raise money to spend at the store for an item to donate to an auction for the school. The price of the candy bar was a bit more than a Hersheys, but the kids learned so much more about the world from selling it. It was the best fundraiser, one that helped everyone down the line -- from the cacao producers, to the craftspeople, Plowshare Gifts, all the way back to the school in profit from the auction.
If you can't find an inexpensive, useful or beautiful gift for the "hard to buy for" at Plowshare, let me know. My friend, Ken with Wind Dancer, is running ads for balloon flight gift certificates. The more often they go up the better my chance of helping out, and I love crewing! You can e-mail Ken if interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.