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Friday, September 22, 2023

New Owners Embrace Worldwide Gifts Galore at Fair Trade Décor

Who doesn’t adore finding the perfect gift for a friend or family member? And better yet, not having to leave the island to secure it. Colorful presents, home accessories, jewelry, clothing, candles, and an array of goodies are waiting at Fair Trade Décor, which was opened in Coronado in 2018 by Elizabeth and Jude Paganelli, who recently passed ownership to Dani Schwartz and Melissa Crow. Both Schwartz and Crow started working at the shop in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, because they wanted part-time jobs and liked the concept of the fair trade message and products.

Dani Schwartz and Melissa Crow, new owners of Fair Trade Decor.

Neither had ever entertained any thought of taking over the store, but one Friday evening in mid-March 2023, Elizabeth expressed her desire to retire to spend more time with her children and grandchild and hoped the two would help the store continue its mission. “We couldn’t commit to anything at first, as the wheels were turning,” says Dani; but less than two weeks later, after talking over all the pluses and minuses, they began to ink a deal that included mentoring to ownership.

“We wouldn’t have done it alone, but together it was a fit that made sense,” comments Melissa. While both are personable, Melissa loves to use her creativity to style displays, create ads, and work on social media. Dani’s strengths lie in accounting, spreadsheets, purchase orders, and behind the scenes duties. Since both were part-time employees, they had rarely been scheduled to work together, but once they began discussing the collaboration, they saw how their complimentary skills would be a winning combination. They stress that they want to build on the foundation that was set by Elizabeth, and continue to enhance the store experience. Positive feedback that keeps them going includes the many customer comments about the uplifting and positive energy in the store, which boasts products from over 35 countries.

A wall full of quilled cards handmade in Vietnam.


Although Fair Trade Décor opened over five years ago, Dani and Melissa are regularly met by Coronado residents who come in and comment that they didn’t know the store was there. If you’ve never been, (or even if you have), a good time to get acquainted will be at their Chamber of Commerce New Ownership Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday, June 28 at 4:30 pm. Customers will receive 15 percent off purchases between 4 and 6 pm that evening.

Moving forward with the women-owned business, this dynamic duo has long-standing roots in Coronado. Melissa’s family came here via the Navy in 1975 and she graduated from CHS; and Dani moved here in 1996 and has two kids who are recent CHS graduates. Both women are excited moving forward in this new venture as business owners.

Dani and Melissa near the alpaca plush from Peru and the alpaca blankets from Ecuador.
Top to bottom: capiz & metal art from Philippines, handblown glassware from Mexico, flat candles from Lithuania, luminary lanterns by an eco-friendly women-owned company, recycled feed bags from Cambodia.

With thousands of products to choose from, you can browse on your own or ask for assistance curating gifts. They have quality, unique handmade items like the cutest alpaca animals and soft blankets from Peru and Ecuador, felt flowers and ornaments from Nepal, colorful soapstone items from Kenya, capiz wind chimes from a small fishing village in Indonesia, and a fun array of expandable vases, dog dishes, and luminary lanterns. The hand-embellished flat candles from Lithuania are perfect for travel or to send in the mail.  They’ve recently stocked customized “Coronado” ornaments handmade in Thailand and Coronado t-shirts from Haiti. Most popular are the unique quilled greeting cards from Vietnam, and the comfortable cotton tunics from India. Story cards detail the product’s origin with information about the country.

Handcrafted Coronado ornaments from Thailand.

With new products arriving weekly, there’s always something to discover. Being part of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) means that every purchase is creating opportunities, with fair pay and safe working environments, for small artisans in developing countries all over the world. The fair trade focus also extends to sustainability, re-use, and eco-friendliness.

Fair Trade Décor, located at 828 Orange Avenue, between Rite-Aid and the UPS Store, is a small, but hidden gem. Catering to locals and visitors, they offer a reward point program where customers receive one point for every $10 spent, and then after 10 points (or $100 spent), they can get $15 off their next purchase of $30 or more. Customers are encouraged to sign up for email announcements to learn about new products, sales, blogs, and more. Definitely worth a visit, this enchanting store is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 am to 6 pm, and Sundays noon to 4:30 pm. Find their website at www.fairtradedecor.com, Facebook and Instagram, or call 619-675-0072.

Need a baby gift? They’ve got that too!

Dani Schwartz is the Managing Editor of The Coronado Times.


Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]