Margaret Mead might have been thinking of One World Shop when she said,” Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” In this case, it started when one Methodist layperson became frustrated with the commercialization of Christmas. He created The Alternative Christmas Catalog, in which he proposed celebrating Christmas through “person-affirming, life-supporting” actions, such as choosing to support people living in poverty who had no market for the items they produced. Purchasing gifts from these artisans empowered them to support their families and contribute to their communities. Motivated by this challenge, in 1973 a small, committed group of Lakewood Presbyterian Church members began to hold alternative Christmas fairs across Cuyahoga County. In 1979, a Lakewood storefront became available, and One World Shop was established.
At first run completely by volunteers, the organization evolved to include a small paid staff. The storefront moved to Rocky River, and for a time, was a partner store of Ten Thousand Villages. As the number of fair trade vendors and accessibility to fair trade products increased, the decision was made to return to the original concept of an independent store and the original name, One World Shop.
Today the store still depends on the efforts of a small group of thoughtful, committed volunteers and staff who want to change the world by promoting fair trade and providing a market for artisans living in poverty around the world.