Pop-Up Fair Trade Stores on Campus

College campuses are full of change-makers and activists like you, making them the perfect locations for hosting successful Fair Trade sales. A pop-up store on campus can be a fundraising opportunity for departments and clubs, or just a great way to raise awareness about socially responsible consumerism.

Get inspired to host your own sale by two schools that recently hosted campus sales, Manhattan College and Bryant University.

Equal Exchange Coffee = Fair Trade Fuel!

At Manhattan College in New York, the School of Business teamed up with Campus Ministry and Social Action for a Fair Trade pop-up store on campus during Christmastime. Manhattan College was the first Fair Trade Certified College in New York City, which means they must carry a certain number of items in their cafeterias and in their bookstore that were produced by farmers and artisans who receive fair wages and can perform their duties in a safe working environment. Aileen Farrelly, assistant professor and assistant dean in the School of Business, said, “Fair Trade embodies our Lasallian values, is critical to the College’s mission, and using fair trade products to launch this project helped our students learn about all aspects of running a business.” The pop-up store was called Fair Trade Fuel and students were responsible for accounting and financing, marketing and publicity.  They sold chocolate, crafts, and clothing to their campus community over the course of three days. It was so successful that they held another sale around Valentine’s Day, selling Fair Trade chocolate and flowers. 

Social Change Marketplace at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI. Photo courtesy of Bryant University.

Bryant University in Rhode Island is becoming known for their Social Change Marketplace, the first student-run program of its kind in the country. Local social enterprises are invited each year to participate as vendors selling their products on campus for a day in December. The pop-up holiday marketplace encourages conscious consumerism during the gift-giving season, and all products featured have a positive social impact. Companies like Honey for Haiti, Prosperity Candle, and Equal Exchange each have their own table set up and talk with students about what makes their products special. Check out their market compilation video from 2017. The popularity of the Marketplace on campus inspired a corporate event at Fidelity Investments and the student organizers shared their successes at the Campus Compact National Conference where colleges and universities dedicated to the public purposes of higher education gather to build democracy through civic education and community development. 

Equal Exchange is an ideal partner for colleges and universities interested in hosting similar pop-up sales. We offer discounted wholesale pricing to organizations that want to sell organic coffee (in packages or freshly brewed at a coffee kiosk), tea, chocolate bars, olive oil and cocoa. You choose cases of what you want to sell, then mark up the products at prices that help you reach your fundraising goals or just covers your costs and promotes Fair Trade.  We can offer best selling product suggestions, pricing recommendations, and promotional materials to help make your sale a success. Our customer service team is available M-F 9-5 Eastern at 774-776-7366 to help.

Here are our top tips for planning a pop-up sale on campus:

1- Plan early: For a November or December sale, start planning in October so you can choose the best date and reserve a prime location with lots of foot traffic. Choose a date or a series of dates when people are most likely to shop.  If planning a sale seems intimidating, start small by reserving a table at an existing gift fair at your college. You’ll benefit from the excitement that’s already there.

Photo courtesy of Bryant University.

2- Recruit a strong team: Find volunteers who are interested in social justice but also look for helpers who are studying finances, accounting, sales and marketing. Put a call out for help on Facebook and at the school’s Volunteer or Ministries fair.  Professors are also great mentors to help guide you.

3-Add in multiple vendors and brands: Many other Fair Trade brands offer similar wholesale arrangements for event sales so you can have a variety of products for shoppers to choose from – find them here.

4- Invite the community: Opening up the sale to the public, if you’re able to, is a good way to increase foot traffic. Promote the sale on campus radio, social media, the school newspaper, and get it in the local media too. Doing interviews and explaining why this sale is special will draw shoppers who are looking for unique gifts that are also doing good in the world.

5-Align your sale with activism-focused events: Some of the best and most effective Fair Trade sales happen during Fair Trade Month in October, World Fair Trade Day in May, and Earth Day in April because they capitalize on existing publicity around social, economic and environmental justice.

For more Fair Trade event and fundraiser ideas for campus groups, read our blog post >>

About The Author

Bethany Karbowski

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *