Oxfam outlets in Australia are quite different to that of their British cousin retail shops. Walk into an Aussie Oxfam Shop and you won't find donations for sale, but instead a vast range of fair trade and ethical products gathered from global artisans.
Oxfam's Sara Pelvin has taken some time to answer some questions for Recycled Fashion, relating to Oxfam's Australian trading arm.
Q: Oxfam's online store sells fair trade products from no less than 28 countries. Can you tell me how Oxfam finds its in-country artisan organisations to partner with, and if there is a selection process in which products are chosen to sell to Oxfam customers?
Oxfam's buyers find producer partners to work with in a variety of ways. Some are producers that we have been working with for years while others are found through trade shows, during in country visits, on recommendation from other Oxfams or other Fair Trade organisations or through direct contact.
:: One of Oxfam's producer partner's Noah's Ark ::
In 2013, Oxfam also introduced a system by which we review our producers more systematically to ensure they are meeting Fair Trade and ethical standards. These reviews are done when we visit a producer, through reviewing audits and assessments that have been done by or for the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) or Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO), reviewing our Producers Annual Reports and also by asking producers to complete our own OAT Producer Assessment Form.
As part of this system, all potential new producers will be reviewed by the Buying Team and the Corporate Accountability and Fair Trade Adviser, and approval to work with them needs to come from the General Manager Trading. Any new producer who is not a member of the WFTO or FLO is required to fill in our OAT Producer Assessment Form.
Q: In what way are customers helping global communities when they choose to buy a fair trade product from the Oxfam Shop?
Through fair and ethical trade consumers are empowering disadvantaged communities by paying them fair and stable prices for their work. Consumers are helping to break the cycle of poverty by supporting producer businesses. In addition to this, the work that Oxfam does with our producer partners helps them to gain the skills they need to develop their business and gives them access to world markets to ensure sustainable, long term businesses.
:: Earth Bracelet::
Q: What are Oxfam's bestselling fair trade products?
Our bestsellers at the moment are our delicious Oxfam fair brand of coffee, tea and chocolate. Oxfam's World Blend is the most popular coffee product with the Oxfam fair Milk Chocolate with Coffee Nibs being the most popular chocolate.
Taking food products out of the picture (which are always our most popular) other bestsellers include all sorts of things such as fruit bowls, cookbooks and bags.
:: Recycled Bike Chain Bowl ::
Q: In Britain, Oxfam stores are generic charity shops, which sell donated recycled wares as well as fair trade products - do you think a similar formula could work in Australia, whereby Oxfam stores become a chain of opportunity shops which sell recycled wares alongside fair trade products, to raise money for Oxfam's greater cause?
:: Oxfam charity shop in Shropshire, England ::
As Oxfam already have a very active and effective fundraising arm we see the best utilisation of our retail space in Australia to be supporting our producers around the world as they continue to operate businesses in a long term sustainable way.
Q: Where can Australian customers buy Oxfam fair trade products?
You can purchase Oxfam Shop products online at www.oxfamshop.org.au, in the coffee, tea and chocolate aisles of Australian supermarkets or at any of our following shop locations:
ACT: Canberra, The Canberra Centre
NSW: Sydney, Broadway Shopping Centre
QLD: Brisbane, Level 2, Myer Centre
QLD: Garden City Shopping Centre
SA: Carles Street Plaza (just off Rundle Mall)
TAS: Launceston, Centreway Arcade
VIC: Chadstone Shopping Centre
VIC: Carlton, 132 Leicester Street
VIC: Walk Arcade, (just off Bourke Street Mall)
WA: Fremantle, 22 Queen St (Cnr Adelaide Street)
WA: Perth, 872 Hay Street (near Shafto Lane)
:: Elephant Jute Mat ::
Q: Are there plans to increase Oxfam's fair trade product range?
We will be continuing our 24 page catalogues throughout 2015 and 2016 (except at Easter which is a smaller catalogue) - and will be expanding our distribution of these catalogues for the Christmas period.
:: Upcycled Paper Coaster ::
Do you shop for fair trade products either for yourself or as gifts for your loved ones? Are you aware of the products sold by Oxfam? Check out Oxfam Shop's full range here.
*Disclaimer - this blog post brings me no monetary gain, I merely admire all the good things Oxfam does a charity, and very much enjoy browsing Oxfam's stores both within Australia and Britain.