November 24, 2017

Where Allegany County Meets the World: Local and Fair Trade at Houghton College Campus Store

Handcrafted journals, textiles, and pottery from local kilns colorfully line the shelves. Homemade candles hang from baskets near jugs of maple syrup made in Fillmore - all mere steps away from tea sets from Bali, Kenyan soapstone bowls and figures, and sundresses made by low-income female artisans in Ghana seeking to raise themselves out of poverty. 

And it’s all found here, in Allegany County.

Supporting both local and global connections is a hallmark of the Houghton College Campus Store. Its locally sourced product section includes items from more than 46 consignment vendors and individuals, while the fair trade goods – those sold at fair prices to support people around the world through comparable wages, ethical treatment, and environmentally sustainable practices – comprise gifts from more than 40 countries. Throughout the store lie exquisite fair trade chocolates and coffee, regionally made candies and foods, and more.

It’s one of the most diverse stores found in Allegany County, going beyond textbooks and college apparel to offer a unique selection of goods for students and residents alike. Finding such a selection of international products is rare in this part of Western New York, outside of heading to Rochester and Buffalo.

Fair trade at Houghton began more than 10 years ago, when two faculty members travelled to Africa and brought back items from vendors to be sold here in the United States. From that success came an entirely new section of the store. Additionally, having long carried Houghton authors and products, the store added a special locally sourced lineup several years ago, providing area artisans with another sales outlet.

“We serve students from diverse traditions and economic backgrounds and try to represent that in some of the merchandise we carry,” remarks Helena Oden, store director and a 2009 graduate of the college. “We also believe strongly in supporting those who create their products – both from our local vendors as well as those in other countries. Our global market/fair trade merchandise is just one way we can demonstrate the passion our students have for global concerns, and our local merchandise is a way we can demonstrate our tight-knit community.”

Connecting students and the community with the world outside Houghton’s campus has been an integral part of the college’s charge. In addition to public events across a wide spectrum of areas, Houghton hosts an annual Christmas Art & Craft Fair, featuring more than 60 vendors from across the county and region. The 2018 fair will be held December 7-8 from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. There is no cost to enter and browse the fair. Additionally, the Houghton College Campus Store will be running its Gift Sale that week, with 20 percent off all gifts as well as buy-one-get-one-half-off jewelry purchases.

For more information on the Houghton College Campus Store, visit www.houghton.edu/store.

Author:
Michelle [Shelly] Hillman|

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