World’s Window began in 1982 when Vonna Yoder began educating the community about fair trade practices. She sold global artisan products at a church sponsored gift fair with the intent of helping international artisans have the opportunity for a more dignified life. After a second successful fair, the inspiration to open a permanent store was born. The new fair-trade retail store opened two days a week in a shared storefront at 18th Street/Waterloo Road in Cedar Falls. From the beginning volunteers were dedicated and dependable, and the store thrived.
World’s Window operated as a non-profit store under the direction of the local Mennonite Church until the 1990’s when an application for nonprofit status was approved under a community Board of Directors.
In March 1991, a second store opened on College Hill but only lasted about a year. About the same time as the College Hill location closing, a more desirable space on Main Street became available. The store operated at 3rd and Main for 7 years until moving to the current location at 214 Main Street.
World’s Window has grown! As a nonprofit, fair-trade, retail store, we continue to purchase artisan products from around the globe with the intension of contributing to worldwide dignity, education and empowerment for the artisan, their family and their community.
World’s Window volunteers continue as the mainstay of the store and the program as they tell the artisan stories and share the fair-trade concept. Volunteer longevity and commitment are commendable and the goal simple – keep overhead expenses to a minimum so artists from around the world can lead a life of hope, dignity, and empowerment by receiving a fair income for their crafts. A Board of Directors oversees the integral strategy of the store and a manager implements the daily operations.