THE ALPACA CONNECTION
Every year on the first weekend in February, Minneapolis plays host to the Twin Cities Loppet. A Loppet is a series of ski races, and ours takes place along the chain of lakes in the city, ending in Uptown (my neighborhood). This year my friend Cynthia and I have decided to walk the Luminary Loppet which is held on Lake Of The Isles on that Saturday evening. Because this event takes place ON the lake, I knew that I would need some warm socks to keep my feet cozy and comfortable while walking on the ice.
While I will be wearing a couple pairs of socks that evening, the outer pair was acquired by visiting the Alpaca Connection store at the Mall Of America. This is one of my first purchases from this store and gave me the opportunity to learn more about them and how they do business.
Since the mid 1970’s, artisans in the Andes Mountains have been handcrafting products from alpaca fur. Alpaca Connection carries these products along with sweaters and accessories knitted from alpaca fibers, as well as woven alpaca capes, shawls, and wraps – all of these products are made in Peru.
If you visit their store in the summer, in addition to the wonderful alpaca items you will also find a large array of Peruvian pima cotton blouses, and a nice year-round selection of accessories from Guatemala – my friend Connie purchased a wonderful purse there while visiting over the Holidays.
Alpaca Connection works directly with the artisans to create handmade products that directly support the indigenous communities of Peru and Guatemala. By doing this over an extended period of time, the artisans are able to improve their lives, by receiving education and training, and help to ensure their children’s future – this connection with these artisans has now benefited three generations. I like too, that the store also has a strong commitment to providing a fair income for the artisans and their families.
The Alpaca Connection has been independently owned for forty years, and their Mall Of America location serves as its “headquarters.” The store operates with a small, but dedicated, and knowledgeable staff that is happy to answer any questions you might have. If you have a chance to stop by, I would highly encourage you to do so. I know I will be going back as I have my eye on an awesome sweater.