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Retailers Join Together to Ensure Child Labor-free Carpet Production

Submitted by: RUGMARK

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: May 29, 2002 – 12:00 AM EST


RUGMARK Launches Socially Responsible Retail Sponsor Program

May 29 /CSRwire/ - Washington, D.C. - Ninety four percent of consumers surveyed prefer to purchase a carpet carrying the RUGMARK label, according to a recent American University Study. That’s why the RUGMARK Foundation recently launched an initiative that works with retailers to promote their RUGMARK, child labor-free rugs to carpet consumers across the country.

RUGMARK’s new Retailer Sponsor Program helps to inform consumers which stores carry its certified rugs. By joining the program, retailers help to educate children in carpet-producing countries while offering their clients the best possible assurance that the rugs they sell are not made by illegal child labor.

"The success of our business is founded on the work of people half-way around the world," explains Driscoll Robbins of Driscoll Robbins Oriental Carpets in Seattle. "By contributing to RUGMARK’s Retail Sponsor Program, we can be assured that our money is helping the communities where our rugs are made. It is a unique opportunity for a business to give back to people who have made it successful."

Launched in November 2001, RUGMARK’s Retail Program now boasts 15 charter members based throughout North America. Sponsorship levels range from $2,000 to $10,000 and offer such benefits as website links, in-store promotional materials, and an informative newsletter that helps retailers to be more socially responsible. Stores participating at the highest level have the opportunity to directly sponsor the education of one of 2,000 children studying under the RUGMARK program.

Studies have shown that between 40 and 50 million Americans - about 25 percent of the adult population - are making value-based purchasing decisions. Among the core values driving these decisions is the desire to provide a future for the world’s children, according to a consumer survey by The Harwood Group.

A Social Investment Forum report also reveals that at least 84 percent of Americans would pay more for products made without child labor. Taken together, this means that RUGMARK retailers now have a market advantage.

Kevin Fusting, President of DC-based Galleria International and the newest Retail Sponsor, says that his customers are concerned about child labor. "Now that Galleria is a Retail Sponsor we’re better equipped to respond to their concerns and offer them a choice with rugs that carry the RUGMARK label." Fusting went on to say that Galleria has already received inquiries about their rugs from the RUGMARK website.

For those involved in the rug trade, whether exporters, importers or retailers, being part of the RUGMARK initiative continues to be an effective way to demonstrate a commitment to non-exploitative trading practices. The growing rise in corporate social responsibility means that businesses are becoming more aware of the complexities of these issues.

"As consumer awareness is raised, more and more people will start asking about the history of their rugs, which will help to expand the program," contends Steven King of Steven King Inc., Decorative Carpets. "As the RUGMARK program expands, weavers stand to benefit with improved working conditions and educational opportunities." King’s Boston-based showroom has supported RUGMARK’s work from the beginning.

RUGMARK was one of the first monitoring systems of labor conditions in the world. Its independent inspections of carpet-making facilities lead to credibility that benefits consumers and retailers alike.

Ultimately, however, the most important beneficiaries of the RUGMARK certification program are children. "In the short-term, Rugmark helps to transition children from work to school," says Nina Smith, RUGMARK’s Executive Director. 'We focus on providing them with the best possible educational opportunities, so that they can create a better future for themselves and their children."

RUGMARK rugs are now sold in more than 300 retail stores across the country. For a complete store listing or for more information on RUGMARK and its Retail Sponsorship program, interested individuals may visit www.rugmark.org or call toll-free at 1-866-RUGMARK.

For more information, please contact:

Eli Pollard Rugmark
Phone: (202) 347-4205
Nina Smith Rugmark
Phone: (202) 347-4205


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