As SERRV prepares to close State Street shop on Christmas Eve, the non-profit is already planning for what’s next

SERRV International is this week's 'Make a Difference Monday'

MADISON, Wis.– It’s going to be a bittersweet Christmas Eve for fans of a beloved State Street storefront.

SERRV International is preparing to close its shop Thursday, after seven years on the 200 block of State. SERRV is known for selling unique, handcrafted products from artisans and farmers around the world.

SERRV was founded in 1949 as one of the world’s first fair trade organizations. Its mission is succinct: To fight global poverty.

The concept of ‘fair trade’ allows artisans and farmers to secure long-term trading partnerships for their products, giving them job security and the opportunity to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. Many of the artisans are from third-world countries. Right now, those countries are also fighting the added challenge of COVID-19.

“This is truly a pandemic,” said Loreen Epp, President & CEO of SERRV International. “And their situations are even worse than here.”

“They’re lacking healthcare and hospitals. Hospitals can turn them away very easily. They don’t have the sanitary conditions we have. Distancing is hard when you’re living in a slum. Just the population density alone makes it so difficult.”

For seven decades, SERRV International has worked to expand its footprint, both in Madison and worldwide. What began as a way to help European refugees trade their handcrafts for income after WWII has blossomed into a global marketplace, reaching 24 countries and empowering 8,000 artisans.

SERRV’s State Street location is the non-profit’s final physical storefront. That distinction will end Thursday, when owners turn off the lights one last time. However, you will still be able shop at SERRV and support its mission.

News 3 Now is featuring SERRV in this week’s ‘Make a Difference Monday’ segment because the non-profit and Epp, its CEO, are already planning for what’s next.

Here are several ways you can help SERRV fight global poverty this holiday season:

  • Shop online. SERRV will continue to operate its digital store, which you can find here.
  • Buy a gift card. The digital store is currently offering two holiday deals: four $25 gift cards for $79 OR one $50 for $45.
  • Subscribe to SERRV’s free newsletter. Subscribers receive information about new products, special promotions, and artisan stories.
  • Donate. You can choose to send artisans advance payments as they create their products, provide grants for training and tools, or fund rebuilding efforts after natural disasters.

And finally, you still have the opportunity to shop in-person at SERRV’s State Street location through Christmas Eve. Click here for the latest sale information and store hours.