Fair Trade Outfitters, in the heart of downtown Langley at 112 Anthes, offers a wide selection of “fair trade” women’s clothing and accessories. Store owners, Barry and Lily van Gerbig, believe “We need to be more connected to what we buy.” “Fair Trade” means the products are made by workers who have jobs with reasonable hours, receive fair wages and work in clean, safe environments.
Barry says, “The companies that we do business with are often organically connected to the village and people where they do business which means they invest profits back into the community to help start clinics, subsidize childhood education, and organize “micro-loans” to further strengthen and build struggling communities and economies.”
Barry was born in Florida and grew up in Vermont, but his mom has lived on Whidbey Island for more than 18 years. Lily grew up in New Orleans and met Barry on a blind date in Florida where they were married in 1996. Several visits to Whidbey over the ensuing years to visit Barry’s mom convinced them that this is where they wanted to live.
When Barry and Lily came together, they created a wholesale line of clothing that was sold to boutique stores on the East coast.
With each visit to Whidbey, they stayed longer and developed a stronger feeling of wanting to live here. Three years ago, they moved to the island where each did a series of jobs. Barry sold his art and apparel print designs, while Lily worked for the Chocolate Flower Farm and the Star Store.
In March of this year, after attending the Whidbey Institute’s “Thiving Communities” weekend and participating in a WILL (Whidbey Island Local Lending) Mash-up, they got the feedback that a fair trade clothing store would do well on South Whidbey.
A short time later they saw that the former Joe’s Music location in Langley was for rent. They met the new owners and realized it was a great match. Barry comments, “The new landlords, Sarah and Thomas, went above and beyond to get as much done as they could to get the space ready for the summer tourist season.”
In addition to their extensive line of fair trade women’s clothing and some men’s clothing, the store displays some of Barry’s whimsical artwork. Besides his life as a clothing wholesaler, Barry is a behavioral specialist who has worked with children. Out of this work, came a series of paintings for children, which he still continues to create in addition to running his new store.
Fair Trade Outfitters is open Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check out Fair Trade Outfitters on Facebook