Trade Winds 1969-2000
photos by Allen Zak

The Trade Winds mural near completion in 1981

The Dragon Over The Door

The Moon And Stars

The Great Wave

email comments, memories, etc. to Paul Volker at
Tradewinds was far more than a great place to shop. Tibetan Imports and World Music before they became widely popular, crystals and beads---and so very much more. With the FreePress upstairs and the Community Festival also coming out of there, Tradewinds was a busy, generative hub of community where I experience my first real taste of being involved in community efforts. Libby gave me my very first job as an artist--Artist in Residence, in the late 70's. It was a tumultuous, growthful, idea-and-music filled place to be. It was a supportive place where Work and Involvement were GOOD things, things to undertake with love and energy. It was a powerful affirmation for me, that someone believed that I could be a real artist and a valued contributing part of the group. Libby taught me to string beads correctly, wait on customers, wrap a purchase, and how to run a store--all things I found so important when I had my own store on High Street, and things I still use as a working artist, merchant and author. I got my first computer experience in the offices upstairs, updating the mailing lists for the Community Festival on a machine that's now an antique. I got my first organizational experiences there, first as Libby's assitant, then as the Booth Organizer for several years of the Community Festival. Libby, Janet, and Yvette were all supportive, caring, involved people, and I benefited more than I can ever say in words from the time that I spent there. The place and the people helped shape my adult life, and the person I am. I will miss Libby's presence all my life, and remember her every time I string a bead, see a rainbow from the crystals in our window, or pass along a little bead-y knowledge.
It is with great sadness that I write this. In 1971 I arrived in Columbus. At that point myself and several people from the May Day Tribe(we organized massive civil disobedience in D.C. in May 1971 against the war) were under subpoena before federal grand juries. across the country( later we found that this had been part of the COINTELPRO program). I still remember that wonderful feeling when I entered Tradewinds which was located south of where it is now. Libby, Judy and Alice had created a store with wonderful gifts and crafts. Woman owned, which was progressive and rare in those days, Tradewinds became my home over the next years. I always felt safe and loved there Tradewinds, a home for the Free Press and free expression it set a standard that is hard to duplicate in being a store and a community center.Thanks Yvette for keeping it open over these years. Ever since I have left Columbus, I always have made Tradewinds one of the first stops in my visits back. The store may close, but the warmth and friendships made can never be destroyed.
PAUL VOLKER (painted the mural)
"Trade Winds was more than a store. It was a center of operations for much of the progressive community. As for the mural, the painting took what seemed like a long time. The big sun and moon as well as the color gradiation behind the stars and the wave were painted by Jill Hurley. Actually, This was the second Trade Winds Mural. The first one, up for a short time included a wolf, a clam, and the big "trade Winds" clipper ship carrying Vladimir Lenin and a cat with the same name. It was really awful. I painted that one too. This one was a big improvement. A photo of a man walking before it with an umbrella won an award in Columbus Monthly.
Recalling when Libby was still a presence in the store takes me back a ways. When the lawyers guild was active, the Tenants Union was strong, the Columbus Community Food Coop was real, the Free Press published always, the Northend Community Center still stood, and like things from folks like we'uns. Community Union had a Diaspora effect. Good things sprang from such seed as was scattered around.


Like dust in the Tradewinds

by Bob Fitrakis

It's the last Saturday, ever, in Columbus' original "liberated zone" known as Tradewinds. Business is brisk inside the campus area's former countercultural headquarters. It's a fire sale--not a prairie fire as the Revolutionary Youth Movement envisioned sparking in the late '60s--and one customer is panicking and hording his favorite incense.

The store's owner, 59-year-old Yvette Garayalde Wyman, calms the frantic buyer by offering him a phone number to put him in touch with her supplier. A young man quickly grabs a T-shirt inscribed "Tree Hugger." I buy a sterling silver ring engraved with, Wyman informs me, a Native American fertility symbol.

The store's motif and merchandise seems like the product of a business merger of Garcia, Hoffman and Guevera. That's Jerry, Abbie and Che, for identification purposes. On July 15, Tradewinds' last Saturday, unrepentant yippies mingled easily amongst the tie-dye with a new generation of retro, neo and nouveau hippies and freaks.

Scott Solomon, Wyman's landlord, recently gave her a three-day eviction notice.

Tradewinds' pro-bono lawyer, Joe Reed, got a seven-day extension from the court--so on Wednesday, July 19, the business founded by the late and legendary community activist Libby Gregory was scheduled to vanish from the Columbus counterculture scene for good.

But not without one last fight.

Former Columbus Guardian editor Mimi Morris e-mailed her community of friends and political allies last week: "For over 30 years, this store has been the place where OSU first encountered alternatives, where exiled Columbusites went to check in when visiting their old hometown, and (very importantly) where the Columbus Free Press found sanctuary when the FBI tried to stifle dissent in Columbus."

Morris, a Free Press staffer and activist in the '70s, raised the question of whether Campus Partners' ambitious redevelopment plan killed the store. My, my. How the times are a changing--back.

Wyman said she became part owner with Gregory in 1975. "You had to do political work to be part of Tradewinds. We wanted to run a business the way we wanted work to be rather than the way it was," she explained.

Local artist Paul Volker, who worked both at the store and on the Free Press, sheltered in the upstairs offices, echoed this theme: "I think that one of the great things about Tradewinds was that it was a business, a capitalist endeavor, but it did not belong to `capitalists' per se. So it's like saying, `Capitalists don't have a monopoly on capitalism.' Having a store that functions as a hub for the community is a great thing."

Volker, along with Jill Hurley, painted the comfortably familiar mural on the Tradewinds storefront, 1651 N. High St. on the corner of Chittenden Avenue. There was "the dragon over the door," "the moon and the stars" over the window and at the end "the great wave."

Symbolically, the great wave known as the "corporate chaining and malling" of America blew away the entrepreneurial spirit of Tradewinds. When asked what would take its place, Wyman offered, "The word `Starbucks' comes to mind."

Wyman called it the "sterilization of High Street" and suggested that Campus Partners made the already run-down south campus area even worse by forcing out businesses. "There's simply no foot traffic or businesses left to attract customers," she explained.

Already in Chapter 13 reorganization, Wyman refused to pay a $2,000 water bill she claimed resulted from a burst pipe. "I've never paid water in all the time I've leased here and suddenly I'm responsible when a pipe burst?" Wyman believes the landlords who own the deteriorating property in the south campus area intentionally ran it into the ground, because it made more economic sense; once the area becomes blighted and a slum, they'll be eligible for public money, she observed.

Tradewinds' lawyer Reed admitted that the store didn't pay its rent on the first of this month, but has always paid its rent by the end of each month, and had never had a problem with this arrangement before. More than a year remained on Tradewinds' lease, which Reed says is "below market value." The $2,000 water bill was the first water bill the store received in 19 years, he said.

Reed said he is filing a counterclaim, for "intentional interference with business," and sees as Solomon's motivation the "gentrification" of High Street, which has unleashed corporations with deep pockets looking to lease in the campus area.

When contacted by Columbus Alive, Campus Partners spokesperson Steve Sterrett said he was unaware of Tradewinds' demise. "Campus Partners gets unfairly blamed for a lot of things," he said. "I was sorry to see the Souvlaki Palace go also. We favor locally owned small businesses."

Sterrett noted that Tradewinds was not part of agency's "Gateway Development Project," since the store was north of Chittenden and 12th avenues. He said that Tradewinds fit into Campus Partners vision of a lively and vibrant High Street.

He also denied a rumor that the Tradewinds landlord was on the board of Campus Partners.

Landlord Solomon also told Alive that neither he nor his father serves on the Campus Partners board, despite rumors circulating in the pro-Tradewinds camp. On the advice of his attorney, Solomon declined to comment on the Tradewinds situation, citing pending litigation.

As the Alive goes to print, Morris and Volker are orchestrating a symbolic "de-commissioning" of the Tradewinds murals. Volker said, while communities have often come together to paint murals, "This is the first one I know of where people have gathered to paint one out."

He explained, "It is important that we in the community `bury our own dead,' as it were. The store is closed, the mural is dead. Rather than letting the landlord have the privilege of destroying the work, I felt it was better to paint it over ourselves. In this way, the community...the family...still retains full rights to the corpse."

Volker sees the white paint covering his mural as "a death shroud."

Tom McGuire offers a positive perspective on Volker's website,, seeing the "diaspora" from the community gathering spot in a different light: "Good things sprang from such seed as was scattered around," from the strong activist winds that blew from Tradewinds.

The community activism nurtured at Tradewinds lives on in numerous organizations, from the Community Festival to the Free Press quarterly journal and website to this very column. Still, I'm reminded that we don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing up High Street.

click photo to see bigger


Date: Thursday, July 20, 2000
Section: NEWS
Page: 11C
Kate Schott
Dispatch Staff Reporter

The rain stopped yesterday just in time for Paul Volker to bury the mural he created 19 years ago in a shroud of white paint.

Burning incense and using a roller and gallons of paint, the 43- year-old Columbus native said goodbye to his four-part mural and its home, Trade Winds, the campus gift store that will close its doors permanently at 9 tonight.

"Closing will be a relief on a certain level,'' owner Yvette Wyman said. "It was more emotional when I realized I couldn't pay my bills.''

Wyman said she was evicted after a dispute over a water bill. She does not plan to relocate the shop, which has sold jewelry, clothing, postcards and incense since 1969 at 1652 N. High St.

"The store and the image belong to a progressive community in Columbus,'' Volker said. He worked at Trade Winds in the early '80s, when he and a friend painted the mural with an Asian theme.

A yellow dragon served as protection over Trade Winds' door, and a moon, sun, stars and giant tsunami completed the work in bright pastel colors.

"I don't want somebody on a work crew to be known as the person who destroyed a great work of art,'' Volker said. So he decided to cover it himself.

He chose the color white in an attempt at sarcastic symbolism.

"Many people feel that an effort is being made to make the campus sterile,'' Volker said.

He was referring to Campus Partners, an Ohio State University- backed organization that is working to redevelop business along N. High Street, south of 12th Avenue.

Officials with Campus Partners said yesterday that they had nothing to do with the closing of Trade Winds.

"Trade Winds is a unique retailing establishment which makes the university interesting and appealing to folks,'' said Steve Sterrett, community relations director of Campus Partners.

Although Wyman does not blame the group, she said it is indirectly responsible for the closing of independently owned businesses in the area.

Wyman said Trade Winds was more than a store. "You have to be politically active to work here.''

The building once housed the Columbus Free Press, an alternative newspaper, and those at Trade Winds helped fund it. Employees also helped organize Comfest in the Short North each year, she said.

But Wyman knew it was time to let go.

"It's hard to make a living down here,'' she said. "All the signs were saying, 'You should get out.' ''

But not until Trade Winds' landmark mural was put to rest.

"Rather than letting the landlord have the privilege of destroying the work, we paint it over ourselves,'' Volker said. "Thus, the community still maintains full rights to the corpse. It allows a proper sense of closure.''

columbus art. com