Sojourns, Birmingham’s fair trade store is moving to Crestwood

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Sojourns -Free Trade owner Melissa Kendrick (center) surrounded by customers. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

After 15 years in downtown Birmingham, Sojourns-Fair Trade, the first wholly fair trade store in the state of Alabama, is moving to the Crestwood neighborhood.

Melissa Kendrick, owner of the popular independent store announced the move to 5520 Crestwood Boulevard in an email to her customers last week. 

Fair Trade is About Changing Communities

Russian nest dolls highlighting iconic Birmingham sites at Sojourns-Fair Trade. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

“I’m really sad to be leaving downtown,” Kendrick told Bham Now. “We purposely opened in downtown because it was just beginning to look like Birmingham was about to revitalize and come back to life, and we wanted to be part of the change. Fair trade is about changing communities, so we wanted to do it in our own community as well.”

Kendrick said she began looking for a new location when the building Sojourns was occupying was sold. The decision was not an easy one.

“Not being next to Jim Reed Books and Goodyear Shoe Hospital is going to be difficult. We’ve become a family. It is very bittersweet for me.”

Parking & Women-Owned Neighbors

Platters from Mozambique. Photo courtesy of Sojourns-Fair Trade

When Kendrick talked to customers and supporters about a potential move, parking was the primary request.

“Everybody over and over kept saying please find a place where there is parking,” added Kendrick. “So that drove my decision, plus the energy at Crestwood Village. All these great women owned businesses, Thank You Books, Crestwood Coffee and Crestwood Tavern, that are very community-centric. I knew it would be a good fit for us.”

Along with the move, Sojourns is adding some new products including glassware from Morocco, sculptural pieces from South Africa and clothing items from Kashmir.

Animal trophy heads made from tin cans, made in South Africa. Photo from Sojourns Facebook page

“It will be like a whole new store. But it will be the same old store that you know and love with more products and more parking.” concluded Kendrick.

Reopening in October

Kilim wool slippers from Morocco. Photo courtesy of Sojourns Fair Trade

Sojourn’s last day downtown will likely be October 10. It plans to reopen at the new location October 20. Kendrick is also considering opening the store to seven days a week.

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  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.