“Here on site”: The fair trade fair

The Fair Trading trade fair took place at the beginning of April. Their success story began 13 years ago in the center of Stuttgart. Time to take a look at its beginnings.

The House of Economy with its impressive staircases, rooms and towers was built at the end of the 19th century as the royal central office for trade and commerce. An ideal place to launch the first nationwide “Fair Trade Fair”, as it was called at the time, on June 24th and 25th, 2005 together with 22 exhibitors. Klaus Weingärtner, consultant for fair trade at the SEZ, had the idea: “More and more active people from the world shop movement approached the foundation and wanted further networking and exchange, for example about products and offers in the area of ​​fair trade. “Since the SEZ was established in 1991, the topic of fair trade has been an important part of the foundation’s work. The world stores should come out of the back alleys and move into the main shopping streets. For example, to professionalize Weltladen employees, the SEZ offered a specially designed series of seminars.

“With the fair trade fair we wanted to show how broad the spectrum of fair trade actually is, because often the store employees only knew the big players in the industry, smaller labels had a hard time. “We also wanted to make the people of Baden-Württemberg interested in fairly traded products,” explains Weingärtner. In addition to the exhibition area, there was a four-day supporting program with lectures, discussions, film screenings and music performances. 

In 2006 another “Fair Trade Fair” took place in the Haus der Wirtschaft. The SEZ then took another big step forward and expanded its trade fair concept. It was clear to the foundation that we should not only act fairly in trade, but also in tourism, finance and corporate management. In addition, development policy institutions should also present their offerings to a larger public. For this purpose, the SEZ was looking for a “conventional” location, a real exhibition center, in order to bring these topics further into the center of society. In addition, the response to the trade fair was so great that Klaus Weingärtner and the SEZ team had to look for additional exhibition space anyway. Negotiations with the Stuttgart State Fair began. Since 2009, the trade fair has been taking place under the name “Fair Trade International Fair for Fair Trade and Globally Responsible Action” as part of the spring trade fairs.

“The majority of the products on display were presented on simple tables in banana crates 13 years ago. The stands were divided by partition walls that were provided to us by the Haus der Wirtschaft,” remembers Klaus Weingärtner. “Today, Fair Trade is as professional as any other trade fair.” And what else has changed since the first Fair Trade trade fair in 2005? Fair trade has arrived in Baden-Württemberg, especially in the food and craft sectors. The number of exhibitors has increased from 22 to 180, some of whom have been there every year since 2005. The events in the supporting program have also increased in quantity and diversity. Then as now, every day is dedicated to a different target group: Thursdays are primarily aimed at employees from world shops, Fridays are aimed at pupils and teachers as well as employees from local authorities, and the weekend attracts families in particular with a wide range of activities.

Fair Handel is the oldest and most important trade and consumer trade fair in Germany for fair trade, development cooperation, sustainable tourism, sustainable finance, responsible corporate management (CSR) and, since 2018, also for future fashion.

The next trade fair will take place from April 25th to 28th, 2019. Come by and continue to write the success story of Fair Trading! 

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