2018-01-04 / News

Fair Trade Winds set to close Jan. 15

BY RYAN GIBBS


Fair Trade Winds, which specialized in items from around the world, such as these bags, jewelry and scarves, is going to close the doors of its Conanicus Avenue location in less than two weeks. Fair Trade Winds, which specialized in items from around the world, such as these bags, jewelry and scarves, is going to close the doors of its Conanicus Avenue location in less than two weeks. A downtown Jamestown retailer has become a victim of the Internet shopping age.

Fair Trade Winds at 47 Conanicus Ave. is scheduled to close its doors Jan. 15. Store manager Reva Greenstein said the decision to close the East Ferry import gift shop was made several months ago in a mutual decision between her and store owners Paul and Lois Culler. Greenstein said the reasons for the store’s closing included the popularity of online shopping and the lack of pedestrian traffic.

“It’s hard these days to have a storefront unless you’re in an area [where] there’s a lot of people walking through,” she said. “It is a family-run business, and there are several stores that are in different areas and they’re doing very successfully. We’re trying to weed down the stores that are not doing well because there’s not enough people.”

The store is having a going-out-of-business sale, with most of its inventory discounted between 20 and 70 percent. She also has been telling regular customers of the impending closure.

“I’ve told everybody,” she said. “Their reactions have been very sad.”

Fair Trade Winds opened locally in July 2013 and sold items from around the world, such as bead bracelets from Morocco, wall hangings from Haiti and woven baskets from South Africa, among other varieties of clothing, jewelry and home decor. The Cullers started Fair Trade Winds in 2000, and the company currently operates five other stores aside from the Jamestown location, each in a different state.

Greenstein has been the manager of the Conanicus Avenue store from the start. She is a longtime family friend of the Cullers, having first met Lois Culler in the late 1980s while the pair were working at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Greenstein moved to Rhode Island from her native Virginia in 2012 in order to be closer to her then-fiance Bruce DiGennaro. The couple were married in August 2013 and they currently live together on the island.

About a year after Greenstein moved to southern New England, the Cullers opted to open up a Fair Trade Winds in the area for her to run, and they decided it should be their friend’s new hometown.

“They opened it for me in Jamestown so that I could have a job,” Greenstein said.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I liked being part of selling fair trade products and helping people in the world. I’ve enjoyed meeting the people of Jamestown and being able to share what fair trade is about. I’ve tried to promote other businesses and artisans that I know in the community. I really enjoy being able to help them out as well.”

After the store closes later this month, Greenstein plans to take a break and do some traveling with her husband, as well as care for her elderly parents who live with her. She also hopes to continue Fair Trade Winds’ presence at local holiday bazaars and markets.

Return to top