We know God’s timing isn’t always ours, thus we can’t demand instant answers to our prayers. But, boy, when it occasionally happens, what a sweet kiss from God it is!
After attending Chase Oaks Church for about a year, David and Cathy Billington were looking for a place to plug in and serve. They learned about our Fair Trade store and loved the whole concept of selling original, handmade, quality products that directly pull people out of poverty. So they dug in there, along with their daughter Marley, and David is now the store’s volunteer director.
David became somewhat overwhelmed with the behind-the-scenes logistics necessary to run the store properly. He and Cathy prayed about it with a new LifeGroup couple one morning about three-and-a-half years ago as they met at The Pantry restaurant in downtown McKinney.
As David walked out of The Pantry, he looked across the street and saw the store sign for Fair & Square Imports. Immediately intrigued, he walked in and recognized some of the Fair Trade products the Legacy Campus store sells.
Andrew and Kate Jones
David was greeted by store owner Andrew Jones. Andrew and his wife Kate had opened Fair & Square Imports about eight months earlier. They had moved here from Indiana for this specific reason, and their store is the only Fair Trade store in Collin County.
Their website states, “Andrew & Kate are especially passionate about Fair Trade because it decreases individuals’ dependency on aid in a dignified and long-lasting way. Opening a Fair Trade store was a natural expression of that passion.”
David explained his role with Chase Oaks’ Legacy Campus Fair Trade store. Andrew had already heard of us because we are the only church around who runs a Fair Trade store year round. After David asked lots of questions about vendors and how to reach this one and that one, Andrew said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you just let us come and stock your store on a regular basis? We already have relationships with certified organizations, we know their inventory requirements, and we have the variety of products you’re looking for. We’ll absorb all the risk for what doesn’t sell.” And, because they were still trying to grow their business and increase sales, it would provide a needed boost for their store also.
David wasn’t sure about that proposition, so he said he’d have to pray—are you kidding? He saw this as a perfect answer to the prayer he had prayed just a few minutes before! So, anyone watching our Fair Trade store at that time began to see the inventory increase significantly.
Kate makes the trek down to Chase Oaks every few weeks to bring new products, restock the best-selling ones, and take a few back to their store. She also does artisan spotlights, so store shoppers can learn more about the people behind the products and their individual stories. Now, David finds himself looking for things to do. (Okay, that’s not totally true. David recruits and schedules store volunteers, and Kate said his Excel sales reports really help her out.)
David told me the three main goals of our store are:
- Sell products specifically to promote Fair Trade and lift people out of poverty.
- Provide an avenue of service for volunteering an hour or two/month at church (Contact David at if you’re interested).
- Extend a hearty welcome to guests when they spend the $5 gift card provided in their guest packet at Legacy, taking time to talk to them and answer questions.
Incidentally, the Chase Oaks Fair Trade store makes no profit from its sales. We pass that on to Fair & Square Imports because we know they plug some of their profits into growing the Fair Trade movement as a whole, and they work to maintain long-standing relationships with the artisans they support. Our store currently provides Fair & Square about 8% of their total sales through our annual sales of roughly $35,000. David also hopes to help our other campuses set up a Fair Trade store in the future.
Andrew and Kate have been amazed to see how uniquely mission-focused Chase Oaks Church is. Kate said, “I have not met people who ‘get’ service more than Chase Oaks. They go out and meet their neighbors, they’re volunteering everywhere. It’s really inspiring for us.” As a bonus, the Joneses and Billingtons have become good friends and get together often.
Fair Trade Gift Weekend
Meet Andrew and Kate at our Fair Trade Gift Weekend, December 9/11. The store inventory will be expanded to help shoppers with their Christmas lists. If you want to buy unique, affordable gifts for your family members that they won’t find anywhere else, this will be the place to shop! And the Joneses can tell you many more cool things about Fair Trade I can’t fit in here. The store will also be open for our Christmas Eve services.
Be sure to check out the Threadies at the store also. Andrew and Kate started this initiative to minister to child refugees (50% of refugees are children). These stuffed bears are sold in pairs: for each one bought here, its twin is donated to a child refugee. This not only creates a special bond between children across the world, but it can change a child’s whole outlook. Each bear comes with a special coping kit to help the child refugee heal from trauma. What a marvelous idea!
So next time you’re praying about a specific need, better keep your eyes open once you walk outside!