Just Fair Trade is definitely more than just a shop. This independent retailer is a social enterprise, committed to sourcing and offering the most diverse range of ethical and sustainable products.

Helping them to do that is their wonderful collection of volunteers. As we mark Volunteers Week from 1 – 7 June, we caught up with Just Fair Trade to find out more about the team and the shop.

How would you describe Just Fair Trade for anyone who’s never visited?

Just is more than just a shop, we are a social enterprise independent retailer selling all things fair trade, ethical and sustainable. Our diverse range of products is spread over 3 floors on Silver Street, in St Martin’s Square.

We sell beautiful, useful products made by skilled business women and artisans being treated with respect, valued for their skill and expertise. The earth’s rich resources renewed and protected.

Our products have a story to tell, they reuse and recycle. Think bags from plastic bottles, sustainable fashion, hand painted wooden toys, Fairtrade chocolate, recycled cotton throws, woven baskets, organic incense, plastic free alternatives including refills

What role do your volunteers play at Just?

Just volunteers are at the heart of all things Just, they’re key members of the team. As such we need volunteers to be reliable, honest, hard working and fun! We are diverse in sex, age, ethnicity and faith and this is something we are proud of. Our volunteers say they enjoy working in the team on a common goal and many have made lasting friendships. They also site enjoying learning new skills and many have gone on to paid employment in the retail sector. We also cover reasonable travel expenses and a staff sweatshirt and T shirt!

Volunteers can get involved in all aspects of shop work. This can include things like; Welcoming customers, helping them shop, unpacking deliveries, re stocking shelves and creating displays, serving on the till, processing online orders, cleaning and making the tea!

How did you begin recruiting your pool of volunteers?

Initially, all those years ago (we first existed as a Christmas pop-up in 1996!) it was word of mouth and friends of friends, we roped in anyone and everyone! We now also get people approach us from both universities and through VAL.

How important is it for businesses like Just to be able to draw on the skills and passion of local volunteers?

Just has always benefitted from a range of volunteers, some with much needed specific business experience and skills. Others come with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Working hard together, we all benefit and the business thrives. We have volunteers at every level of the business including directors.

What are some of your most popular items that you stock in store?

Our wooden colourful toys have always been very popular. We sell loads of greetings cards, recently we’ve introduced ones made with seed impregnated card, so you can plant them! Increasingly we are seeing customers wanting more alternatives to our plastic throw away culture. We are constantly looking to add to our range of alternatives; such as our refills, sustainable cleaning products, and beauty products. We sell a lot of Suma soap and Tony’s Chocolonely!

Do you have any personal favourite items or ranges?

Having had the privilege of meeting cocoa farmers from Ghana and hearing how Fairtrade farming has transformed their communities I enjoy eating their chocolate!

What does Just have planned over the summer?

To seek out new and interesting fair trade ethical and sustainable products to sell in the shop.

To continue to give excellent customer service so all our customers enjoy shopping with us.

To improve our website( its become a little clunky!!)

Where can people find out more / what are your opening times?

We are open Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 4pm and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. We are closed on Sunday and Monday.

Find out more about Just Fair Trade via their website or on Facebook.

Visit Just Fair Trade at 36 Silver Street, LE1.


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