Fair-trade shop Ten Thousand Villages to close after 24 years in business

Jenai Mayfield shops for jewelry at Ten Thousand Villages in Virginia-Highland (Photo by Phil Mosier).

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 plans to maintain normal store hours through the end of January and will communicate changes in that schedule on its website and Facebook page.

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.

Atlanta INtown (in its previous incarnation as 30306) profiled Windows on the World in 1995. Ten Thousand Villages has been a longtime advertiser in INtown and we will miss the shop’s presence in our pages and the community.

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. 


1 Comment
  1. What a shame. Another pebble in the path to losing our way of life. I started to perceive the trend in the fall of 2014 with the closing of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, although the actual trend might have started much earlier than that. We are losing our roots and our traditions and we call this “progress.” Common sense is gone. We walk fast, we drive fast, we stop in the middle of the street to check our IPhones because we cannot wait until we get to the sidewalk. No more neighborhood shops or store associates who remember our names. “Get with the times,” I hear my adult daughter tell me.

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