Agape Shoppe Celebrates 40th Year In WatertownPosted: Updated:
Inside the Agape Shoppe in downtown Watertown, the crafts have a story, like the jewelry from Cambodia.
"They're called war and peace earrings because they're actually recycled bomb casings," said Marcia Clifton Robbins, vice president of the board.
Then there are blankets, purses and baskets made in Bangladesh out of old saris by mother and daughter teams.
"The idea behind these crafts is that the mothers and the daughters can work together. It gives the daughters a value in the family. In Bangladesh, the birth of a daughter is considered kind of a negative thing and expensive but because these young girls can work with their mothers making these beautiful crafts, they're actually kept from being married off at a very young age," said Robbins.
The store sells fair trade crafts and gifts made by artisans from around the world who get paid a fair living wage for their native creations.
This year the store is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Robbins' parents helped start the shop in the Globe Mini Mall. It moved to its storefront on Court Street in 1987.
And while the types of crafts have evolved, the store's mission has always stayed the same.
"We're really making a big difference in people's lives," said Robbins..
Upstairs, there's a thrift shop where the store continues its mission of helping people right here in the community.
The thrift shop offers programs that train people on how to interview for jobs, help people get work experience by volunteering there and a job shop program, which gets people the clothing they need for work.
"So that they can start working, get a job, whatever it is that they need to get started," said Cassondra Edmondson, thrift shop manager.
With businesses coming and going in downtown Watertown over the years, store employees and volunteers know 40 years is a big landmark, especially since the store is a non profit that operates mostly with volunteers.
"It can be very difficult to keep something like that going and there are a lot of businesses that come and go downtown so I think we're really excited that we've been able to be here that long and are continuing to help, so as long as we can do that, we'll keep going," said Edmondson.
Forty years of investing in downtown Watertown and the world.