One purpose: Ten Thousand Villages

By Jessica Johnson-Petty
April 25, 2012

Traveling across the waters one would bring home great handcrafted findings. Shopping at a normal “thrifty” restoring store, you may buy an item that was found and mass reproduced for the benefit of the corporation. Hidden behind the craziness of the cliché of the vintage buying stream, Ten Thousand Villages stands for the artisans who work hard to improve their lives and those of their offspring.

This is the brand that takes pride in being a non-profit company. Edna Ruth Byler did not imagine her trip to Puerto Rico would become the beginning of a chain of stores with a purpose and founding a movement that forever benefits lives forever.  The store in the Court of King of Prussia Mall is one of 73 in a chain of stores in the United States.

This grassroots company cares about the ethically treatment behind every product produced. From the hands that labored it to the materials used to construct it, each detail is handled delicately.

Each buyer receives a 50 percent payment upfront, meaning before the product is produced the artisan is paid directly. The paint and dye used is plant-based. Many products in the store are from completely recycled materials.

The official Ten Thousand Villages stated on its website that the capital allows artisan groups to purchase equipment and raw materials without going into debt by taking out loans with high interest rates.

Liz VanArtsdalen, store manager of Ten Thousand Villages, takes pride in the company’s way of reasoning. “If you leave out one element you lose the entire idea,” VanArtsdalen is said. “We all as a group defend the Fair Trade method.”

One can find things for their homes, to spice up their outfits, or to make a loved one smile.

Here, as many other Ten Thousand Villages, you can find beautiful handcrafted elements at a reasonable price. The hands that create these unique works of art work with the company closely.

In terms of fair trade, the site gives its thoughts on fair price and establishing long-term relationships.

With only three outside vendors, the company knows all the individual buyers personally. Unlike in a larger corporation, if a buyer has to halt production for a death in the family because of a cultural barrier, each case is respected. The buyer does not lose the project.

VanArtsdalen explained how the company just encountered an issue exactly like this: a buyer lost a family member. Instead of discounting the project the company had compassion and respected the culture’s grieving period.

Ten Thousand Villages makes a difference in not only individual lives but also the world. By decreasing carbon footprints, each item is unique by having its own fingerprint, for it is not made by machine but by man.


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Jessica Johnson-Petty

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