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A Thriving Community Gathering Place: Traditions Fair Trade

Since 1996 Traditions Fair Trade has provided a special space for community gatherings, concerts, and justice events in downtown Olympia. The cafe closed in January, but the international fair trade shop is a robust business. Events of all kinds take place many times a week. “We’ve been working with community members to expand use of the space as a ‘gathering place’ in the spirit of a nonprofit,” stated owner Jody Mackey.

Jacqueline Tabor sings at Traditions cafe on September 30, 2023. Photo by Wendy Davis.

Many community organizations rent the space for meetings and fundraisers. The rental price is $50 per hour, with a discount for inspired community-building groups. Traditions also sponsors one nonprofit each month to have an event for free. Examples are October’s Halloween party for houseless parents and their children and November’s fundraiser for the BrenRose Foundation.

In addition to 50 professional bands a year from across the US and the globe, events that give beginners a chance include Kids Jam, Oly Poetry, and Olympia Musical Theater, with pianist Troy Fisher accompanying vocalists singing Broadway tunes. The venue is also filled with birthday parties, local concerts, recitals and classes.

This gathering space is inviting—and unique. The walls have brightly colored decorations from many cultures, and a floor-to-ceiling window offers an impressive view of the Capitol building towering above Heritage Park. Amenities include a piano, a stage, a projector and screen, and a sound system with speakers, mics and monitors. The total capacity is 76, with 55 seated at tables and the rest in rows of chairs.

Traditions can provide many homemade specialties that are customer favorites, such as soups, cheese or hummus plates, and desserts. A wide variety of beverages, from beer and wine to chai, is also available.

To schedule events at Traditions, call (360) 705-2819 or email

Charlotte Persons is a life-long environmental activist and a contributor to WIP since 2021.

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