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Oct 30, 2012, 2:58 pm
A unique boutique: Selling the goods that do good for others
By Heather Thorstensen

Roxanne Bartsh opened her business, Wild Ginger Boutique, in Zumbrota with a goal to help others through some of the products she sells. (Photo by Michele Jokinen)

From the time she opened her shop, Wild Ginger Boutique in Zumbrota, Roxanne Bartsh has been filling it with items that not only appeal to what customers want but that also help other people through their sales.

“When I’m buying, I always look for that. Whenever I find something that fits, I bring it in,” she says.

Among her inventory of women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry and small gifts, she includes locally made items and products made in the U.S.A. to support regional artists and the country’s economy. 

Stocking locally made items is key to her business philosophy. She runs a locally owned business, so she wants to see the dollars that come into her store support local people.

In most cases for her, “locally made” means it came from within a 50-mile radius, but some things come from further away, such as leather purses from Hayward, Wis.

She has noticed a shift in the national clothes market within just the five years she has been in business. When she first started looking for American-made clothing, it was hard to find at an affordable price. Now, there is more available.

“People are really paying attention to that,” she says.

She also likes helping people in other parts of the world. She offers fair trade products that provide decent wages to the people behind the products. And she sells things that support causes overseas.

Her fair trade jewelry and clothing mostly support people in central America and South America. Some come from Indonesia.

“They’re paid a living wage, a wage that’s fair to them for their products,” she says.

She sells fair trade jewelry from Africa that is made from recycled materials such as flip flops, telephone wire and cable. Some are made out of grasses. She also carries jewelry made from rolled up paper by women in Haiti who were victims of the country’s 2010 earthquake. A nurse from Rochester went to Haiti to do missionary work and brought the jewelry to Bartsh’s attention.

It comes with the name and story of the woman who made it.

“The women, the money they get makes a huge impact on them being able to rebuild their lives,” says Bartsh.

Another jewelry line is made with tagua nuts from trees indigenous to South America. The nuts are an ivory alternative, so it helps to discourage killing elephants for their tusks. It creates jobs because people are needed to harvest the nut, and create the jewelry from it. It prevents deforestation because the trees do not need to be cut down to get the nuts, she says.

Her customers seem to enjoy the opportunity to spread goodwill as much as she does.

“They like to be able to give back,” Bartsh says. “It also makes a great gift because it’s a gift that has a story behind it. It just has a story. This person you give them to, you can say that you’ve done something to help.”


Wild Ginger Boutique: 320 S. Main, Zumbrota. (507) 732-4123, Price range: Haitian necklaces, $29. Tagua nut jewelry ranges from $12 to $18. 

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