By Tyler Hatten,
Unite Contributing Writer
Springfield adds a little flare to the city as a local crafts store goes global, exploring a new meaning of creativity. Global Crafts, located on 1508 E. Republic Rd., provides various artisan crafts from around the world.
The man behind the business, Gary Jones, provides artisan crafts to consumers who enjoy items from different cultures. Since 2012, Jones ensures artisans from developing countries make a livable salary. Crafts from 35 countries in four continents are displayed inside the store. From handbags to tea bags, Global Crafts offers items you wouldn’t find at your local retail store.
Inspired by his mother’s fair trading business, he then began his business with his wife inside their local church basement in Lincoln, Nebraska where they worked for ten years. In 2005, he moved to Springfield, Missouri where he continued his business. In 2014, Global Crafts became a nonprofit organization.
“I feel strongly that these people need help” says Jones. Global Crafts only buys from artisans whose only or main source of income is through their artwork. He explains how fair trading is not only to create business partners, but relationships with artisans. St. John’s Chapel, Campbell Methodist Church, and First and Calvary Presbyterian Church are Global Crafts’ developing partnerships. Any money Global Crafts makes goes to start groups in foreign countries or to loan to other upcoming stores.
There’s a little something for everyone’s interest, with hats and gloves for men, dresses and jewelry for women, and even books and toys for the little ones. Elephants made from Sprite cans or purses made from soda caps are just two of many items in the store.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is really the motto these artists live by. Majority of the artworks are leftover scraps where they create beautiful pieces. A pile of old, rusted bicycle chains can create timeless wall art. Used plastic bags can create colorful flowers chains. Now that’s something to think about when you walk past a dumpster.
Jones explains one instance where a couple in Nairobi, Kenya creates their pieces and contributes to their community. “The husband picks up the broken glass off the street, the wife fashions the jewelry, and every three months they go into the slums and pick up three people and train them so twelve people a year get out of poverty”.
Global Crafts is slowly emerging as they broke even for the first time last year. Jones plans on future expansion include hiring a staff and gathering volunteers to help run the store.