By Lisa Carolin
The future of downtown Chelsea’s Global Marketplace is up in the air.
Owner Kevin Frahm is planning to retire, and although he will continue the store’s online presence, he is looking for just the right person(s) to carry on his mission at the store.
“My wife Denise and I have been involved in Fair Trade and this business for 20 years now,” said Frahm, who says he looks forward to discovering what’s next for him.
“Every town does not necessarily need a Fair Trade store. If we are truly committed to treating farmers and artisans fairly, what we really need is every business carrying Fair Trade products as part of their ongoing business models,” he said.
The Frahms began selling Fair Trade products at the Chelsea First United Methodist Church 20 years ago, then transitioned into a nonprofit Fair Trade store and education and advocacy organization, and finally a mom-and-pop fair trade store advocating for fairer and more ethical commerce.
“I have been honored to interact with customers, who have described our business as a “place of peace” and frequently thank us for being part of the community,” said Frahm. “Support has been so great that Chelsea became Michigan’s first Fair Trade town.”
Frahm says they’ll miss the interaction they’ve been able to have with the Chelsea community such as the Chelsea District Library and the International Book Club Discussion Group.
“We will miss the chocolate and coffee treats and origami cranes we have given away, the early years when we had the Bubble Master 2000 blowing bubbles up and down Main Street during the Sounds & Sights Festival, the chalk art that young and not-so-young artists have left, being visited by Mr. Incredible, collaborating with the schools for Geography Night, and supporting the music programs,” said Frahm. “We have been extraordinarily blessed by this community.”
Frahm is in preliminary discussions with people interested in carrying on their mission and possibly taking over the Global Marketplace store. Ethically sourced Fair Trade products will still be available at www.TheGlobalMarketplaceChelsea.com, which he will run. The family plans to stay put living north of town in the Waterloo Recreation area.
What’s Frahm’s next step?
“First off, just take a little time to breathe and looking forward to experiencing my youngest child’s senior year and spending time with my wife,” he said. “I’m hoping to possibly transition back to data collection and data entry in a medical field, and I have some human resources experiences.”
Frahm would like to cut back his working hours and work from home, and if they find someone to take over the business he says, “I will spend time mentoring and sharing my experiences with owning the Global Marketplace.”