When most people shop for gifts, they’re after something brand new. But at EcoXOXO, a new shop in the Original Farmers Market, they’ll likely get something salvaged from the recycling bin.
John Cole, a longtime apparel buyer, opened Eco-XOXO at the Fairfax District market in July to fulfill both his green-living mission and desire to sell unique, handmade goods.
The shelves of the tiny kiosk are stocked with bags made from bicycle inner tubes, baskets made from electrical wires and rugs made from trash bags – to name a few. While some goods are designed locally, many are made in developing countries by cooperatives of crafts people who receive a cut of sales.
“There are amazing stories behind these items. And they show people that we don’t have to make everything out of plastic,” said Cole, who acquires the items at trade shows and through his personal network.
An L.A. native, Cole owned a high-end leather goods store in Manhattan before returning to Los Angeles and opening the store with his own money. He said demand at the tourist destination has been good, with some items selling at a rate of about 100 a month.
Ilysha Buss, marketing director at the historic venue, said EcoXOXO fits well among the location’s eclectic mix of shops and restaurants.
“The Farmers Market prides itself on having unusual, eye-catching items, and there aren’t too many stores like his in the country,” Buss said.
Cole added it makes sense to offer his inexpensive products – which range from an $8 key ring made from a bicycle chain to a $170 picnic basket made by Mexican prisoners – in an economic downturn.
“We don’t need another $1,000 handbag,” he said. “But we all need gifts, and we’ll still share with others.”