Marking 30 years of ethical retailing

Celebrating 30 years of Oamaru Trade Aid are (from left) Jocelyn Marsh, manager Delwyn Cox, Janet...
Celebrating 30 years of Oamaru Trade Aid are (from left) Jocelyn Marsh, manager Delwyn Cox, Janet Calder, Chriss Spooner and Jo Blakey. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
For 30 years Oamaru’s Trade Aid store has kept true to its philosophy of ethical retailing.

Current and former store workers met at Ardgowan Hall two weeks ago to celebrate the anniversary.

Delwyn Cox manages the Oamaru store with a team of volunteers, many of which have served for more than 10 years.

She said the length of service spoke to the spirit of the shop and its work.

"Everyone’s here because they want to be."

She had been involved with the store for 16 years, witnessing many changes.

Everything used to come wrapped in single-use plastic bags, but now they regularly sold items in reused paper.

It never would have been acceptable just five years ago, but now customers did not seem to mind.

The store also used to focus on general products at a lower price point.

Nowadays it had grown to be a strong competitor in the homeware market, stocking more expensive items like quilts which never would have been sold there in the past.

Knowing the products were high quality and produced ethically made her feel good about her work.

All of the suppliers had to meet production standards and were audited to ensure they continued to comply.

That meant she could rest assured knowing every product she sold was from a well-paid worker.

"I just feel really proud."

"I’m still excited to come to work everyday. I don’t think many people can say that."

Many of the customers who came in were locals, as opposed to tourists.

"That’s what kept us going through Covid."

It was great to see the store do well, "especially in today’s retail climate".

About 40 people came to the celebration, with many others sending in letters.

They brought a collection of CDs to the celebration, but did not get a chance to play them because the discussion was so lively, she said.

The wider organisation celebrated 50 years earlier this year.