Lo­cal Ven­dor Sells Goods For Traf­fick­ing Sur­vivors

The Oakdale Leader - - NEWS - By TERESA HAM­MOND tham­mond@oak­dale­leader.com

It was an un­der­tak­ing not for the faint at heart, but one that was taken on none­the­less. For sev­eral decades the prom­i­nent build­ing lo­cated at 141 N. Yosemite served as a one stop shop for farm­ers, ranch­ers and cowboys.

As the years passed, the once pop­u­lar lo­ca­tion of Oak­dale Feed and Seed how­ever, grew too small for the grow­ing busi­ness, which re­lo­cated to its cur­rent 147 N. Sierra Ave. lo­ca­tion last fall. Now, the North Yosemite lo­ca­tion is home to the pop­u­lar down­town home dé­cor busi­ness At the Cor­ner, which first opened in fall of 2016.

Busi­ness owner Patty Dy­cus set her sights on re­lo­cat­ing the busi­ness in late spring, look­ing for­ward to the idea of al­low­ing more square footage of shop space, cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­nity for more ven­dors.

It was a de­ci­sion which ben­e­fit­ted ven­dors such as Michele Becker of The Vil­lage Shop. Becker’s space of­fers unique prod­ucts that not just tell a story but also serve a pur­pose.

The Vil­lage Shop ven­dor space is com­prised of prod­ucts made by sur­vivors and at-risk in­di­vid­u­als of hu­man traf­fick­ing. A cause which the mother of two first be­came pas­sion­ate about close to five years ago af­ter at­tend­ing a 5k Walk hosted by the Modesto-based or­ga­ni­za­tion With­out Per­mis­sion.

Becker shared as she learned more about the or­ga­ni­za­tion and its cause, she felt driven to help in what­ever ca­pac­ity she could.

“I just couldn’t re­solve that,” she said of the traf­fick­ing facts and sta­tis­tics. “I needed to some­how help.”

What ini­tially be­gan as pick­ing up a few trin­kets for her­self, mor­phed to a home party and even­tu­ally be­came a side busi­ness work­ing ven­dor fairs and craft shows with items pur­chased from vary­ing agen­cies.

“I’m not sure if it was because my daugh­ter was 16 at the time,” she said. “Re­al­iz­ing this could be her. This could be any­body’s daugh­ter. I just knew I had to do some­thing.”

As she looked to ex­pand be­yond the home party scene, Becker found min­istries and or­ga­ni­za­tions of­fer­ing an as­sort­ment which she found both ap­peal­ing and unique for shop­pers.

Prod­ucts are pur­chased from sur­vivors in Haiti, Cam­bo­dia, In­dia and the United States. Most of the prod­ucts are made of re­claimed items such as bike chains, bike spokes, tire tubes, wood and more. Her booth as­sort­ment in­cludes hand­bags, hand­made signs, house­wares and knick-knacks.

“I think peo­ple gen­er­ally want to help,” she said. “It’s just what do you do?”

All pro­ceeds earned from the booth sales, go di­rectly back to the sur­vivors through ad­di­tional pur­chases of prod­ucts.

“I would like to even­tu­ally have enough profit to give do­na­tions to With­out Per­mis­sion,” Becker said. “This is just some­what of an eas­ier op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to feel like they’re mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

LEADER PHOTOS BY TERESA HAM­MOND

Michele Becker of The Vil­lage Shop shows some of the merchandise in her newly opened space in At The Cor­ner re­tail store. The busi­ness re­cently re­lo­cated to its 141 N. Yosemite Ave., Oak­dale, lo­ca­tion. The site is the pre­vi­ous home of Oak­dale Feed and Seed.

A dec­o­ra­tive piece made of old tire spokes is one of many unique hand­made prod­ucts fea­tured in The Vil­lage Shop booth space. Items sold within the space are pro­duced by sur­vivors of hu­man traf­fick­ing.

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