OKC’s PAMBE Ghana Global Market Hopes for Boost to Fund School
The hours of operation for the PAMBE Ghana Global Market at 2420 N Robinson Ave in Oklahoma City are from noon to 6 p.m., according to official flyers, but manager Sara Braden is usually there much earlier.
“Usually I come in at 10 in the morning and just put the ‘Open’ sign on, and we often have people coming by that time, too,” Braden said. “That’s because people always expect stores to be open at 10 a.m., but our technical hours are noon to night, Tuesday to Saturday.”
One-stop shop selling fair trade products and temporarily located in historic Jefferson Park near downtown Oklahoma City, PAMBE Ghana Global Market offers a variety of items from countries in Africa, d ‘Asia and Latin America.
“We have this year some really fantastic silk scarves from Guatemala with amazing colors and patterns that are really pretty,” Braden said. “Lots of hand-knitted mittens and gloves from Nepal from a blend of wool and hemp, and they’re great. We even have jewelry, bead jewelry this year that looks nothing like that. we have never had it before, like rings, bracelets and anklets.
And that’s not all. There are musical instruments, animal sculptures, and even organic leggings. But shoppers won’t have much time to shop in person at the market this year, once it closes on Friday, Christmas Eve.
“When it comes to vacations, we sell a lot of vacation items,” Braden said. “Lots of Christmas decorations, lots of cribs, lots of gift items that would make perfect stocking stuffers. We sell a lot of kitchen items, table linens, baskets, wonderful home decor items.
And aside from a few high-end items like a large pair of bongo drums, the more expensive items on the market cost an average of $ 35, with most items selling for less.
“A lot of people think fair trade, they think it’s going to be very expensive,” Braden said. “But the reality is what we do is take out a number of middlemen, and when the artisans create something, they get a decent and living wage when the item leaves their hands, and it usually goes to a wholesaler who gets it to us. then sells. But we keep our prices really reasonable.
The Global Marketplace is run by volunteers and is one of the main fundraisers for the La’Angum Learning Center, located in northern Ghana. The school was the dream of Executive Director Emeritus Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels and provides Montessori education from kindergarten to sixth grade to 275 village boys and girls in the rural area.
“I’m just in awe of what Alice and the rest of this community, the teachers, have done,” said Connie Monnot, who volunteers at the OKC Market. “What I really like is that children first learn in their own language, then learn English, so they speak and read in both languages. It is a bilingual and hands-on developmental approach to learning. Education is very important to me and school gives children many opportunities to improve their lives.
The proceeds from the global market, which all go to the learning center in Ghana, represent about 25% of the school’s funds each year, volunteers said.
But the past two years have been tough due to COVID-19, and many artisans have seen less of their products hit the market. Braden hopes recent trends encouraging subway residents to “shop small and local” between Thanksgiving and Christmas will boost sales during a particularly trying holiday season.
“And we’re also taking some space, rent free, and because of our non-profit status, we can’t really afford to occupy retail space year-round,” Braden said. “But we tend to be lucky to go and see the owner of an empty space around August and encourage them to get tax relief by allowing us to move in and bring in a group of people, attract a lot of customers and make the building look better. It’s a vibrant and lively store, and tends to do very well.