PETALING JAYA: When you do your Christmas shopping this year, think about picking up some gifts for the greater good.
At The Good Shop, each item has a value far beyond the sum of its parts.
The gorgeous batik products from fair-trade The Batik Boutique keep artisans and single mothers sustainably employed – and keep a valuable Malaysian craft alive and vibrant.
The hand-sewn totes were made by residents of the Cheshire Home Selangor, which provides shelter for underprivileged people with disabilities.
Mangolicious’ mango jams are luscious, but the fact that the sale of each jar contributes RM1 to the Sherishlife Home’s no-kill shelter for animals somehow makes them taste sweeter.
The brainchild of director Eena Khalil, The Good Shop gathers together the products of almost 40 social enterprises and NGOs, and provides them with a retail space, as well as market consultation, consumer feedback and brand awareness.
Its current pop-up is at Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya.
“We want to make the point that whether you are buying for yourself or someone you love, responsible consumerism is always an option,” said Eena.
Buying responsibly is about serving the greater good.
And in a world where the negative seems to multiply exponentially, every small opportunity for good is welcome.
For every Project Woodworks watch sold, one tree from an endangered species will be planted; Tanoti is a collective supporting songket weavers from Sarawak and the Penan Long Lamai community, who make traditional artworks.
“We take a small commission from the sales, depending on the items, but the ultimate aim is for the sellers to grow and be recognised enough that they can then strike out on their own,” said Eena, a former marketing consultant.
“The shop is a stepping stone for them to be independent.
“In 2013, I met up with an old friend, who had just set up Tanoti.
“And I said that these wonderful songket scarves and things she was making should be available in KL, but she said that it was too expensive to get a retail space there, and she didn’t have the manpower,” said Eena.
She soon encountered many other social enterprises, all with the same issues – beautiful products, and no money or manpower to harness a larger retail space.
So, in May 2015, The Good Shop was born.
While it aims to have a permanent space for activities and retail, Eena likes doing pop-ups for now because The Good Shop is about spreading the message of change, rather than just selling things.
“To that end we have a lot of activities to generate awareness for the causes our social enterprises and NGOs are championing; it brings them closer to the consumers.”
These include coordinating social enterprise fashion labels Tanoti, Cherrybomb, Khatreena in The Good Shop and jewellery brand Durrah for a fashion show at Avenue K’s Fashionably AK, and collaborating in the Buy Out Slavery campaign with the History Channel, CNN Freedom Project and Not For Sale, to spread awareness about modern-day slavery.
“Our employees are trained to help customers understand how the products that they are buying will have a positive impact,” said Eena.
“For me, I’m always happier to buy things that I know will help good causes.”
The Good Shop (thegoodshop.com.my) will be at Empire Shopping Gallery until Dec 18.
After that, you will find it at ModeMarket at Quill City Mall in KL from Dec 21 onwards.
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