Beyond the price tag: Black Friday and fair-trade gifts

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As someone with no pressing desire to take on the chaos, crowds and pure insanity of Black Friday, I can't say I will have the pleasure of hiding away this year, as a new employee of the riveting realm of retail.

I am about to enter into the world of sleep-deprived, caffeinated and on-a-mission moms armed with nothing other than the pure blood-boiling drive to check all 30-plus items off their shopping list.

Forced into this world, I will be a part of the annual event that brings out the dedicated, albeit slightly crazy, bargain shoppers. Stores, including the one I work for, are opening as early as the night before to jack up the sales.

But with all the craziness that this pinnacle of shopping days brings, I can't help but think about the growing consumerism that is occurring in our country, land of the largest consumers in the world. With an estimated 225,000,000 shoppers spending $55.77 billion in one day, this day sheds light on the careless commercialism that plagues society.

But, with the rise of businesses promoting fair trade, sustainable and local products, it is encouraging to see a paradigm shift taking place. Take Yobel Market, located in downtown Colorado Springs, a place for the "conscientious" consumer to shop unique, handcrafted gifts from around the world that are all fairly traded and sustainably created. As a volunteer-run, community-based organization that travels worldwide to empower impoverished and exploited groups of people, they help to foster sustainable production processes. 

Yobel Market will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Black Friday, with discounts on these "fairly made goods" ranging from 20%-50% off. What's even cooler is all their handcrafted goods come with a backstory of who and where it was made as a brief peek into the face of the maker.

And they're just one instance of a local company seeking to offer something other than cheap goods at a price of meager wages and subpar working conditions.  

So, this Black Friday, whether you're interested in saving a couple of bucks or finding the perfect holiday gift, I encourage you to look for alternative ways to do so that supports fair trade, sustainable practices. And, in doing so, you'll find a safe haven for everybody.

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