Fashion and retain studies students Kailan Prouty, a fourth-year, Natalie Enders, a fourth-year, and Sam Stockert, a second-year, work as interns in the newly opened Global Gallery in Cambell Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
The department of consumer sciences is working with the Global Gallery to educate students on fair trade practices and open a new store on Ohio State’s campus.
The Global Gallery, which began in the Short North, the arts district of High Street, in 1991, is a non-profit organization that sells fair trade merchandise at multiple locations around Columbus. Fair trade products pay crafters fair wages and offers equal employment opportunities, healthy and safe working environments and respects cultural traditions, said Connie De Jong, executive director for the non-profit.
Global Gallery’s new store, located on the ground floor of Campbell Hall in the costume gallery, held its grand opening at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The store, which is functioning as part of the Consumer Sciences 289 fieldwork class, is entirely student run.
De Jong teaches the class that meets Mondays at 3:30 p.m. to investigate product development, placement, marketing and enhancement strategies for the store. Students also have the opportunity to work as sales associates and managers during the store’s hours of operation, De Jong said.
Global Gallery is working closely with the consumers sciences department to fund this effort. Global Gallery has covered all the startup costs of the new store, while the consumer sciences department donates the space and covers technology fees.
“Global Gallery is a not-for-profit,” De Jong said. “So the way fair trade works is we make sure we pay the artists first and then we sell those products in the stores for the same prices we bought them for. This is how we are self sustaining.”
While other Global Gallery locations sell products at their original cost, there is a slight mark-up for the campus location.
“This mark-up allows for students to make sure they can market the products. We have coupons that students from the class will be handing out, and this lets people around campus know about the new store. It is part of the learning process,” De Jong said.
De Jong, like other adjunct instructors in the department of consumer sciences, is compensated for teaching the students involved in this effort.
Products available for sale include jewelry, clothing, accessories, lighting fixtures, figurines, teas and coffees, all of which are fair trade items that Global Gallery imports from around the world and distributes to the campus location.
Susan Zavotka, associate professor of consumer sciences, heads the Fashion and Retail Advisory Board, the innovator of the project, said the idea sprung up last fall.
“We thought maybe we could use some of the costume gallery space for a test place for a store, and we researched and found that a few other universities where doing this too,” Zavotka said.
Jonathan Fox, the interim head to the department of consumer sciences, on many occasions had De Jong come in and speak to his students about fair trade. When members of the advisory board started thinking about what would be a good retailer to work with, they immediately thought of Global Gallery, and asked De Jong to come up with a business plan, Zavotka said.
Many of the students taking the class said they first heard about the Global Gallery from one of De Jong’s guest lectures.
“I was really interested in fair trade after Connie came in and I wanted to learn more. I like what fair trade does for developing countries and I was excited that it could work as an internship also,” said Amber Sager, a third-year in fashion retail studies and merchandising.
Student manager Mariel Hilts, a fourth-year in fashion retail studies and merchandising, said she first learned about fair trade from the Students for Fair Trade organization on campus, but did not have the time to join the group. She said she was excited when she heard about the Global Gallery internship opportunity that would allow her to work with fair trade as part of her academic schedule.
There are 25 undergraduate students and one grad student in the class and they all work on running various aspects of the store, from inventory and product selection, to store layout and marketing. Students receive three to five credit hours for their participation.
While there are no concrete plans for how long the store will stay open, De Jong and Zavotka said they are hopeful that these next six weeks will serve as a positive laboratory for learning that will continue to grow in the future.
“It’s an experiment this quarter, we have some ideas and we want to develop more partnerships with other organizations around campus,” De Jong said.
The Global Gallery 289 class is going to be offered again next fall, and applications will be available soon, De Jong said. She also recommends that students of all majors try to take the class.
Global Gallery will be open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.