Just was born in 2000, although its story begins ten years earlier. Sarah Shepherd and her husband David went to live and work in Tanzania in 1990, seeing for themselves the difference fair trade can make to people’s lives. On her return to the UK Sarah began selling fair trade products from Traidcraft at parties in her home and organising a series of fair trade fashion shows.
This selling grew until in 1996 the first pop-up Just shop opened in the centre of Leicester. It was open for the six weeks up to Christmas. The shop was a huge success, both in the amount it sold and in attracting the attention of the local media who gave it extensive print, radio and television coverage.
Back then the availability of fair trade products was very limited but this first shop proved that there was a clear and enthusiastic market for all things fair trade. After a further three Christmas shops and summer fashion shows, Sarah and her team became Just Fair Trade Ltd, a workers’ co-operative social enterprise, and the dream of year-round trading became a reality. Just opened on 28 October 2000 at 10 Bishop Street, Town Hall Square.
The first years were highly successful seeing a significant increase in turnover each year.
But with the global downturn came local challenges as the main post office and banks around Bishop Street closed and the development of the Highcross shopping centre moved Leicester’s shopping hub further away from us. We needed to move!
So in October 2009 Just moved to its current site in the heart of independent shopping in Leicester. The move to a much larger shop was a risk, with a significant increase in rent and rates offset against the potential of improved sales. The gamble paid off and Just continues to be a successful business. Since 2009 the shop has expanded to trade on all 3 available floors of the shop.
2020 saw another big challenge with the global pandemic. Although the shop could remain open because of the large range of essentials it sells, sales plummeted. Just realised it had to go on line. Just’s e-commerce website started selling essentials in the spring, offering local delivery, click and collect and postal options. Since then the range of products available to buy on line has grown immensely with new products being added all the time.
In summer 2020 Just opened a concession within Eco Village, a zero waste shop in Market Harborough. Working with other like minded organisations has always been a pleasure and we are very happy to be selling a small range of our products to the folk of ‘Harborough.