One of the many reasons I am in love with Downtown McKinney is that it's full of opportunities to shop and eat local. Kitchen stores, boutiques, and restaurants are filled with one of a kind locally sourced items. But there is one shop on the square I adore that is locally owned yet almost exclusively features items from across the world: Fair and Square Imports.
McKinney's very own fair trade store on Louisiana Street is a bright, airy, colorful, and joyful place to be. And when you shop here you know that every single item in the store makes a positive impact, supporting artisans from some of the poorest parts of the world. Kate and Andrew, the owners, only work with certified fair trade organizations. It takes just a couple of minutes talking with them to learn that they are passionate about their philosophy of putting people first. Fair and Square's website has a section where you can learn more about what fair trade is, and why it is important. Fair trade is a system in which fair and consistent prices are guaranteed to producers in developing countries. It also ensures a variety of other human rights such as safe working conditions, no child exploitation, equal opportunity for women, amongst other things that we often take for granted. Andrew explains his passion for fair trade, saying "it's not a handout" and "there is a story behind each item". "With fair trade", says Kate, "your purchase is powerful".
Kate and Andrew
Fair and Square Imports is owned and operated by Kate and Andrew Jones, a friendly young couple who call McKinney home. Kate and Andrew met at Valparaiso University in Northwest Indiana where Kate was studying Marketing and Andrew studied International Development and Cultural Affairs. His first year out of college, Andrew took a job at a Community International Center while Kate was completing her final year of studies. One of the Center's largest projects was their annual Christmas fair trade market. Andrew came up with the idea to develop the market into a full time store and was in charge of creating that from the ground up. His experience with his studies in college and his first job gave him and Kate the idea to open their own Fair Trade store. Kate is originally from the North Dallas area so they moved back from the midwest, and stayed with family until they got their dream up and running in September 2012. They now live and work in downtown McKinney and feel a deep commitment to and love for the community here.
My Favorite Foodie Items
There is such a variety of items to be found at Fair and Square Imports: jewelry, clothing, home goods, kids toys and books, and (my personal favorite) food. Read on to learn about two of my favorite culinary items they carry, but be sure to check out all the other foodie goodies when you stop in Kate and Andrew's shop - especially the coffee and tea!
Sindyanna of Galilee Olive Oil
Sindyanna is a non-profit organization led by women who sell products from Arab farms internationally via Fair Trade practices, and then return the profits to support education for Arab women. At the heart of their mission lies the search for peace, women's empowerment, and bridging cultural divides. Arab and Jewish women work on their craft together at Sindyanna, striving for a peaceful coexistence. On top of their goals and mission, Sindyanna makes the highest quality award winning organic and extra virgin olive oils. Fair and Square imports has partnered with the company since 2003 and two of their best sellers have been the cold pressed organic olive oil and the organic olive oil soap.
Fair and Square Imports carries EVERY variety of chocolate Divine makes, about 15 or so. My personal favorites are the Dark Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt and the plain Milk Chocolate. When you stop in, ask for a sample! They always have samples of the plain dark and milk chocolate available at the register.
Aside from being absolutely delicious, Divine Chocolate has a rich history. This company also places an emphasis on women's empowerment; about one third of the membership of Kuapa Kokoo, their cocoa farmer's co-op, is made up of women. Cocoa farmers from Ghana banded together to form Kuapa Kokoo in the early 1990s in order to break free from the government cocoa agents, trading their own cocoa in an efficient, transparent, and fair manner. Other buying agents in Ghana are notorious for using inaccurate scales when the farmers bring their cocoa beans to weigh. Kuapa Kokoo prides itself on having the most accurate scale and never cheating farmers. People come from miles away to have their beans weighed on the Kuapa Kokoo scale, to ensure they get paid what they deserve for their product.
Each Divine Chocolate bar wrapper is decorated in beautiful symbols which are an important part of the history and culture of Ghana. The symbols are called Adinkra, and each one has its own meaning.
Wine and Chocolate Tasting Event
Andrew and Kate host a variety of community events at their store throughout the year. And because we love Divine Chocolate so much, we have partnered with them to throw a Divine and Wine event, exclusively for our Eat, Drink & Be McKinney readers! Mark your calendars for the evening of April 7 to come in to the shop for a complimentary chocolate and wine tasting. We will update with more details as we get closer to the event.
Interested in the Divine and Wine Chocolate and Wine Tasting event on April 7? Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our mailing list to be the first to know details on this event!