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Business Spotlight: Dharma Trading Co.

Humble roots are at the base of the thriving textile supplier.

1604 Fourth St , San Rafael

456-7657, www.​dharmatrading.​com/

 

What do they offer?

Widely considered the best textile craft supplier in the country, Dharma has been selling all manner of fabrics, dyes and beyond for over 40 years. In their store or online, one can find anything you’d need to put color on fabric, such as dyes, paints, tools, embellishment supplies, blank fabrics and clothing blanks. Dharma stands firm behind their founding principal: it's possible to be involved in business while maintaining good ethical values. A staff of almost 70 people works to fill the countless orders from across the United States and beyond, but always have time for their walk-in customers.

Who are they?

In trying to recreate the experience of an LSD trip, Isaac Goff discovered the spiritual practice of a spiritual movement called Subud. Goff had an epiphany during a visit with Bapak, the leader of Subud, which led him to utilize his talents as a businessman in whatever form they make take. After helping a friend run a meditation pillow shop, Goff found himself in possession of some imported hand-spun yarn. He borrowed money from his aunt and took a trip south to stock-up on more textiles. Once he’d amassed a satisfactory inventory, Goff opened Dharma Trading Co. in Berkeley. Dharma started as a yarn store and then added dyes for tie-dye and then fabric paints, then t-shirts, then clothing and on and on. Goff opened another store in Marin County, and closed the Berkeley store sometime after. The company started mailing a catalog in the early 1970s and the mail-order sales quickly overshadowed the store and became the focus of the business. Later, in the early 1990s, Goff built a rudimentary website, which nowadays serves as a hub for much of Dharma’s business.

How long have they been there?

Dharma Trading Co. first opened on University Ave. in Berkeley in July 1969. The San Rafael store opened in 1975.

Why are they in our Business Spotlight?

Isaac Goff started the business years ago with a few thousand dollars, half of which was borrowed, and over time slowly grew it into a leading supplier of textile craft supplies. More importantly to Goff, he did it all without compromising his values of being honest and fair in dealing with customers and suppliers. The company has dedicated itself to environmental sustainability, taking actions such as banning styrofoam peanuts and using soy inks to print their catalogues and flyers.  Dharma has also initiated several social programs and funds for disadvantaged children in Bolivia and elsewhere. 

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