2014 has been an exciting and challenging year for Fair Grounds. We have had the opportunity to open an actual shop in a busy area of Sheffield in Yorkshire. It was originally going to be just a pop-up shop for fair trade fortnight collaborating with a couple of Fair Trade organisations in Sheffield. This quickly developed into a year-long opportunity as a good friend of the family knew the landlord of the shop space we were going to have. We had two weeks to set up and gathered a group of volunteers who worked tirelessly to get the shop ready in time for fair trade fortnight. The premises used to be an off-license with a horrible all black interior – but with a little paint, second-hand slat walls and a new hand-made counter we transformed it into a light and welcoming space. We also painted the stockroom, kitchen and the outside of the shop.
  
On our grand opening night, back in February 2014, we invited the mayor of Sheffield to come and cut our recycled newspaper chain ribbon! It was a great event and we had an article published in the local paper. We now have a team of over 12 volunteers (of all ages including school and university students, full-time employed and retired people) who give up their time for a morning, afternoon or full day once a week or fortnight. One of our shop volunteers, Cathy, has been volunteering since the shop opened in February and heard about us through a friend, both of whom were part of a Fair Trade network in Sheffield.

“I enjoy working in the Fair Trade shop in Sheffield because I feel that I am doing a bit more to promote awareness of something that I believe in strongly. I like the variety of tasks - serving customers, taking deliveries and pricing etc, putting out stock on shelves and more recently I have really enjoyed doing some local promotion and publicity. There is always time to have a chat with whoever else is working in the shop that day and, of course, the opportunity to see what's new in the wide variety of Ethical and Fairly Traded goods in the shop.”

Two of our youngest volunteers attend a local Sheffield high school and are volunteering as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Once a week they come after school to volunteer for an hour, putting out new stock, pricing up and serving customers on the till. There's also a university student, giving up precious weekends to help me with product photography for the webshop, and doing a fantastic job!
On the wall behind the counter we have a world map (painted by David and Auden) which shows where some of our products come from, and we have had a lot of positive feedback  in general about the shop from local residents and customers.
Having the shop has enabled us to stock a wider range of fair trade products including Traidcraft food, Created gifts, jewellery, toys, accessories, greeting cards and homeware. We have promoted the shop in various ways - adverts in local papers, word of mouth, social media, and contacted most of the churches in Sheffield, but we still have a long way to go. We are in a good, popular location but have missed out on some of the Christmas shoppers by being out of the city centre. 
Our sale or return boxes are becoming more popular and throughout Nov/Dec a few of our volunteers hosted their own Fair Trade Social Evening in our shop, inviting family, friends, colleagues to come along, enjoy some complimentary refreshments, browse, buy and learn more about our products. There is also a primary school behind the shop, and some of the pupils regularly pop in at 3pm with their parents or grandparents for their favourite fair trade snacks. They certainly brighten up our day! 
One of the best things about the shop is that we don't have to pack up everything at the end of the day and pile it all into a van (which is the case at every festival or event we do!) Although it has still been a lot of hard work, and challenging, we hope that it will continue to grow in the new year. If you live or are visiting Sheffield please pop in and say hello!