Amy Lavan was an assistant manager at Ten Thousand Villages when the nonprofit closed its third, and final, Denver location at the end of April....after 36 years. The store dedicated to fair trade had just moved to 275 Clayton Street a year ago, and in a neighborhood getting increasingly exclusive, this latest loss in a string of Cherry Creek closures hit hard. So Lavan decided to create a mobile replacement, to ensure that "we continue to have fair trade be an option in Denver."
Inspired by the Airstream-based store that one of Lavan's former co-workers from a Ten Thousand Villages location in Virginia had opened, she browsed Craigslist for two months to find a suitable vehicle. The next challenge was naming the business: The Dream Stream came to her in a pre-sleep moment. It's perfect, Lavan says, because it encapsulates the business venture's mission. "It's not only my dream to be self-sustaining and start my own thing," she explains, "but also to continue to support artisans and their dreams, too."
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In the Dream Stream, which will rove Denver neighborhoods, Lavan will stock ethically sourced products ranging from $6 to $80 from a variety of vendors, including Ten Thousand Villages, which is still going strong in other cities. Among the vendors whose products she's excited to offer is Mata Traders, which specializes in clothing made by women in India and Nepal.
But first, Lavan needs to get the Dream Stream on the road. In May, she launched an Indiegogo campaign to help turn the Airstream into a mobile market. So far, the crowdfunding campaign has amassed over $5,000 of its $16,000 goal, with most of the donations coming from either friends or former patrons of the Ten Thousand Villages locations at which Lavan has worked. The campaign is set to wrap up on July 10.
Lavan hopes to complete renovations by this fall, and while she continues that work, she'll be selling fair-trade wares at pop-ups, included the July 30 Freedom Market fundraiser for the nonprofit Beloved.
In the meantime, shoppers looking for fair-trade deals have a few options, including a Ten Thousand Villages store in Fort Collins and the Denver-based, online Incazteca and SanYork.