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Global gifts

Marie Havenga • Nov 12, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Looking for a unique handmade gift such as a colorful lamp made from cocoa leaves in the Philippines, a robe made in India or a rainbow-hued bowl crafted from recycled telephone wire in South Africa?

Those items and more will soon be available for sale inside the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, 200 Washington Ave. in downtown Grand Haven.

Extended Grace, a local nonprofit organization that offers community-based instruction to people with disabilities ages 18-26, is extending its reach to bring goods from around the world to the Grand Haven marketplace. The group will be opening Just Goods, a fair trade store centered on social justice and human rights, inside the museum next week.

The plans are to showcase items from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the museum's Holiday Marketplace, and then open for good on Tuesday next to the museum gift shop.

Offerings don't stop at fair trade items from around the world. Just Goods also features handmade items crafted by the young people that Extended Grace serves.

“They have a micro-enterprise they've had for four or five years, making notebooks and coasters, but they have no sales outlet for it,” Extended Grace Director Barbara Lee said. “That's where the lights started going on, and we decided we could be the vehicle for selling that merchandise and also raising awareness.”

Eventually, Lee said the plan is to have the young adults staff the store, which will help promote one of the organization's goals — teaching job and social skills.

“We can use the site to train students in retail and customer service,” she said. “When we get to the point when we can hire, we want to employ people with disabilities.”

Extended Grace has also teamed up with Doug Tjapkes’ Humanity for Prisoners organization to sell items made by prisoners.

“They have people who are incarcerated who have been making hand-crafted goods,” Lee explained. “We'll also be selling those items — prayer shawls, teddy bears, knit items, paintings. This will also raise awareness.”

The social justice and human rights organization will also feature a variety of traditional fair trade goods, from home décor to ornaments and Nativity scenes.

“We're really excited,” Lee said. “We just placed a big order for hand-crafted items from around the world, crafts made in Third World areas where the people are receiving fair wages.”

Malea Nicolet, an Extended Grace board member, said she's thrilled with the new venture.

“People can shop local but go global,” she said. “They can support our local programs with all these global items.”

Just Goods will be open during regular museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12-5 p.m. Sundays, with extended hours during the summer.

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