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Fair Trade Meets Wake Up Coffee Company

His words were always rife with thought and significance and continue to be so in his current endeavors. From the dearly beloved Charles Pearson who was a past author here at OurThursday…

This summer I was approached my by step-brother, Bo Mann, about joining him in his business as co-owner and co-manager. Having recently returned from Turkey, and unemployed, I was interested in the offer. What really excited me, however, was the nature of his business.

A year ago Bo Mann founded Wake Up Coffee Company on St. Simon’s Island, in the USA. The business model is unique — half coffee house, half retail store. These seemingly disparate types of business do have a common thread here at Wake Up, and that is Fair Trade. Bo Mann has built an organization that is committed to selling Fair Trade products and operating in an environmentally sound fashion. Our coffees, teas, and retail products are all Fair Trade Certified by the Fair Trade Federation or are procured through a direct relationship with the producer. Our materials are made from recycled, recyclable, or compostable materials whenever possible. And our coffee is quality-controlled by the Bo Mann himself.

When Wake Up Coffee first opened in October of 2009, there were a deluge of articles in local newspapers and magazines about the fledgling business. Despite being overwhelmingly praising, Wake Up Coffee Company was repeatedly described as ‘Free Trade’, rather than Fair Trade, to Bo’s chagrin. To be clear — Free Trade is the movement of goods between countries with minimal government regulation in order to improve efficiency. The drawback of this, of course, is a race to the bottom where businesses seek to lower costs by sacrificing wages, safety, and environmental standards. Fair trade seeks to mitigate those trends by offering assurance that the workers, farmers, and craftspeople who make the products we consume were paid a decent wage and work in safe conditions. Said differently, by purchasing from Fair Trade outlets, we, as consumers, can help steer global economic, social, and environmental trends.

This September Bo and I attended the Fair Trade Futures Conference in Massachusetts. We met lots of interesting and innovative people who shared our passion. Around the dining tables, where the bulk of the socializing took place, most people were surprised to find that we had a Fair Trade Coffee Shop & Store in Georgia, in the Southern USA. Most of the attendees themselves were from urban centers, such as Chicago, Boston, or Seattle — where the Fair Trade industry is well-developed. We would respond that we wouldn’t have it any other way, that the people in the Golden Isles were very open and enthusiastic to the idea of Fair Trade and environmental sustainability. Indeed, the ideals Fair Trade espouses are ones that span political and geographic divides.
So as you begin your shopping this holiday season, please take a look at our website or in our store to see if you can make any of your holiday gifts, FAIR TRADE gifts.

Wake Up Coffee Company

For more information on Fair Trade, please visit the following websites:

Fair Trade Federation:
Fair Trade Resaource Network:
TransFair USA:

Thanks for visiting our website, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Charles Pearson

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