After 24 years in business, nonprofit Ten Thousand Villages has announced it will close its fair-trade retail shop in Virginia-Highland.
The shop, located at 1056 St. Charles Ave., provides fair wages through Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs) to those creating hand-crafted artisan items. The products are made in rural and urban communities, family workshops, refugee camps, widows’ groups and neighborhood cooperatives in over 40 countries.
“While it is difficult to lose our roots in Virginia-Highland and disband our volunteer family as we know it today, we have not been able to fund business solutions to support our mission,” store manager Juliet White said in a statement. “The retail landscape is changing rapidly and Virginia-Highland has not escaped this trend. Our store model is unable to compete considering the current conditions.”
The shop will remain open until Feb. 25 and White encouraged shoppers to drop in and “help us sell everything in the shop so we continue the tradition of supporting artisans around the world until our last day.”
“We choose to look at this as a celebration of our success and with hope for the future of other fair traders,” White said.
The shop began in 1990 when Karen Gross and Marg Lambert began selling handcrafted items in their homes and through local church fundraisers. In 1993 they opened a store, Window to the World, on St. Charles Avenue.
Window to the World changed its name to Ten Thousand Villages when it joined the nonprofit in 1996.
White said the Virginia-Highland shop has provided over $3 million in fair trade purchases by bringing artisan treasures and stories to the neighborhood, its visitors, volunteers, and network of relationships globally.
“Your dedication through volunteerism and giving through purchase of hand-crafted products has been invaluable in supporting artisans around the world – what a community we have made! We are forever grateful for the years we’ve spent together supporting this mission,” White said.
Read INtown’s most recent profile on Ten Thousand Villages that appeared in our December issue.