Mango Tree Imports

Courtney Lang August 7, 2009

Kim and Chris Andersen started Mango Tree Imports eight years ago with imported jewelry, linens and lace direct from Paraguay. The expansion to opening a retail shop and incorporating fairly traded items from around the world occurred in the spring of 2006.

Since that time, Mango Tree has served as the voice of fair trade in the small village in which it is located, Ballston Spa, NY, the 9th Fair Trade Town in the USA.

Each customer that enters Mango Tree Imports is asked if he or she is familiar with fair trade and, partly because of that constant dialogue and partly due to being a fair trade destination, Mango Tree has grown significantly in its first three years. Mango Tree’s hand-crafted products are purchased from nearly 40 Fair Trade Federation-member wholesalers in the US and, in some cases, Kim and Chris either knew the artisans already, or followed up with trips to meet them.

While the 55+ weekly retail hours are important, the reality is that the educational side to fair trade is critical to the growth of the movement. In addition to hosting a cultural and / or fair trade event the first Friday of every month, Mango Tree participates in nearly every national, fair trade activity and call to action. World Fair Trade Day, Fair Trade Coffee Break, National Fair Trade Month and Reverse Trick-or-Treating are just a few of the annual activities that help to keep the fair trade movement advancing in Ballston Spa and the Capital Region. In addition, courses are offered for local teachers to learn more about fair trade. Most recently, Mango Tree Imports played an integral role in Ballston Spa becoming the 9th Fair Trade Town in the US. After talking up the idea of becoming a Fair Trade Town for almost a year, a committee of volunteers was formed, including several high school students, and the work began. Meetings were held at Mango Tree at least once a month, the committee marched in the annual holiday parade with hand made signs which spelled out the fair trade principles ( A conference was held in April which allowed folks from nearby towns to learn more about Fair Trade Towns USA. It is anticipated that the April conference, held at the local high school, will become an annual event. Besides a heightened awareness of fair trade and related issues, becoming a Fair Trade Town has encouraged 10 additional businesses to carry fairly traded items and that number continues to grow. One plan for this upcoming autumn is to reach out again to all of the churches in town, offer to present about fair trade and help them source even more fairly traded products for their coffee hours and other events.

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Courtney Lang, National Organizer | Fair Trade Campaigns

Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.