Stanwood business owner promotes fair-trade goods

By Amy Rolph Herald Writer

STANWOOD — Fay Mafnas likes getting questions from her customers. That’s why she’s there.

They ask: How do you know it’s really fair trade? Why should I buy organic cotton?

That conversation is part of the reason Mafnas opened Yesterday, Today &Tomorrow, a small business that retails eco-friendly, fair-trade products from its storefront on 271st Street in Stanwood.

A long-time believer in buying products manufactured by companies that pay living wages and don’t use child laborers, Mafnas was used to shopping outside her community on Camano Island.

When she decided to start the store, it seemed logical to locate it in a community that already demonstrated a strong fair-trade following. But Mafnas wanted to stay closer to home and take on the role of evangelist.

“We love our community, and we’re trying to share this with our community,” she said.

The reception has been warmer than she anticipated: “I was not expecting to be thanked for opening a store like this.”

For now, the store is just a one-woman operation, though Mafnas’ husband and parents help out when they can.

Inside, the shelves are lined with a collection of new, recycled and vintage items. Toys made from recycled milk jugs were on sale late last week, and clothing by manufacturer Global Girlfriend was displayed on one wall.

A mobile made from banana fiber acted as a display tree for jewelry made by women and distributed by nonprofits in impoverished countries.

Mafnas said she knows looking to buy humanely can take some of the fun out of shopping — and that it’s not always practical when money is tight.

But she’s hoping her customers will choose to take small steps that could add up to something big in the future.

“It just seems to me like we can vote with our wallet,” she said.

Read Amy Rolph’s small-business blog at www.heraldnet.com/TheStorefront. Contact her at 425-339-3029 or arolph@heraldnet.com.

Where to find it

Yesterday, Today &Tomorrow is at 8717 271st St. NW in Stanwood

Call 360-629-5001 for hours or directions.