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Fair trade Latin American shop at Oxo Tower

London SE1 website team

A fair trade business selling goods from South America has opened a Christmas shop on the riverside walkway at Oxo Tower Wharf.

Eleanor Marriott in her Chicken Bus shop at Oxo To
Eleanor Marriott in her Chicken Bus shop at Oxo Tower Wharf
Chicken Bus

"Your shop is delicious," is just one comment from customers who have discovered the temporary shop.

"Nothing is made in a factory," explains Chicken Bus founder Eleanor Marriott. "Everything is handcrafted. If you buy a floral bag here you won't see another lady with the same bag because it's unique."

Chicken Bus is a new business launched by Eleanor following recent her travels around Latin America. An SE1 resident, she was manager of Southwark's former Tourist Information Centre at Vinopolis before setting out on her year-long journey.

While visiting South America she noticed a lot of poverty in many of the countries. "For example, in Guatemala 56 per cent are living below the national poverty line and 23 per cent of children suffering from malnutrition," explains Eleanor.

"Secondly, there are some amazingly beautiful and unique products being crafted there, in various forms such as bags made from hand-embroidered blouses, known as huipiles, or jewellery crafted from jade and silver or tiny beads."

Eleanor is purchasing direct from the artisans or their co-operatives wherever possible to ensure that the producers are being paid fair prices to reflect the quality of their craftsmanship.

In addition to buying at fair trade prices, and often paying more than is asked, Chicken Bus is giving 5 per cent of profits to a Guatemalan charity which helps a project installing safe stoves in poor homes.

In the shop there is a delightful choice of over thirty beaded Christmas tree decorations (4 each) including, snowman, Father Christmas, star, parrot, dog and a bright red chilli. "They do not break if they fall off so they are good for people with children," says Eleanor.

There are also equally colourful beaded keyrings in the form of penguins, frogs and strawberries which are selling as unusual stocking fillers.

The unique 'huipiles' bags (from 20) hang across the main space above scarves, plain jute bags in various colours (10), baby bootees and orange wreaths.

• The shop is open daily 11am-7pm till Christmas. Customers quoting "London SE1" can obtain a 10 per cent discount.

Chicken Bus products are also available from the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre shop in Southwark Bridge Road.

Meanwhile Eleanor, who is at the Oxo Tower only until Friday 4 January, is hoping to find a permanent shop to move into next year.

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