Fair Trader, Good Neighbor

By Andy Mitchell

When Amy Kay Pavlovich and her family decided to move back to Kansas there was considerable concern throughout the area over what would become of the fair trade store on the northeast corner of the square. During her proprietorship Amy Kay developed a loyal customer base in the community, partly due to her store’s offerings, but equally owing to her personality. She is missed to this day by the many friends she gained while living in Jacksonville.

Knowing she would have big shoes to fill, Rhonda Kircher stepped up to the plate. Along with many others who wanted this unique store to continue to thrive, I was rooting for her (not knowing I’d be in an almost identical circumstance in the near future). Now firmly rooted catty-corner to the bookstore, Rhonda’s version of Just Good Trade is a bonafide success. As with her predecessor, she too offers more than just fairly-traded goods from distant lands; she offers her own personal touch. Sometimes I stop in to buy a gift for Jenn. Sometimes I stop in just to say hi. (And sometimes I leave with a fedora!)

I remember the first week Rhonda took the reins at JGT. I was minding the book shop while Jim and Sally were in Scotland visiting their daughter and her family. Raised to be neighborly I made a point to welcome Rhonda to the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, I remember Sally telling me that my mom (whose pie crust is legend) brought over a freshly-baked pie when she and Jim moved down from Naperville. My parents live just across the street from the Nursses. Sally said that gesture confirmed for her that they had made the right decision moving downstate.

It was the right decision for Jacksonville as well. Thanks to Jim and Sally our town got a bookstore. (Plus, my parents got some nice new neighbors.) But four years was enough of a good thing for those upstarts from Chicagoland. They have mountains to climb and grandkids to hangout with. So, no sooner had Rhonda stepped to the plate and hit one out of the park, I was being called from the bullpen to warm-up. (Forgive me; it’s play-off season.) Being a former pitcher – does Little League count? – I was content to lay down a decent bunt when it was my turn at bat. I’m not trying to clear the ivy here. I’m just happy to have the chance to keep the good ship, OTB, afloat. And after a few choppy waves early on, it’s been pretty smooth sailing since.  

Meanwhile, I wouldn’t trade Rhonda for any slugger out there. She’s got the goods.

Thanks to Rhonda, Just Good Trade is doing just fine. It’s like a treasure chest full of cool stuff from all over the world, hand-made by fairly-treated workers. Stop in, have a look around. You might leave with a bit of treasure and a smile after visiting with my good neighbor down on the corner,  just a friendly wave away.


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