Alternative gift fair gives local shopping opportunities before the holidays


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– This year one shopper could spend more than $1000 on gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. Instead of shopping at a major retailers, a Lansing church helped promote shopping local from small businesses.

The goal of the annual Alternative Holiday Gift Fair at Grace United Methodist Church is to bring the world to Michigan. What started as a small group in 2009 grew into a marketplace with more than a dozen suppliers across the globe.

“It’s to help educate people about the principles, practices and products of fair trade,” lay leader Carol Simmons, “as well as by nonprofits that help with providing jobs in third-world countries, selling products that are made by women who are supporting their families.”

Dozens of customers left with gifts from as far away as Haiti, Colombia and Tanzania. And they left knowing the money they spent on a pair of earrings or a purse would provide fair wages and safe working conditions to people around the world and even close to home.

Cass Community Social services uses their profits from gift fairs like this to build housing and provide for the homeless in Detroit.

“That helps the homeless population,” Chandra McDuffie says. “It helps with our agency, provide food, homes, employment and healthcare.”

They’re hoping people will make an effort to do at least a part of their shopping with local sellers over the holidays.

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