A few weeks ago, I decided that it was just about time I visited Ten Thousand Villages. As one of the only truly fair trade shops in the area, I had wanted to visit for a good while. Since I had a couple more Christmas gifts to buy, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and check it out.
What a sweet atmosphere. I was greeted at the door by a very friendly gentleman with a name tag that read "Lee - Volunteer". When he learned this was my first visit, he very proudly explained that this was no ordinary shop I had stepped into.
After telling me how Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade shop, how important fair trade is to the betterment of the world, and how environmentally-minded many of their products are, he offered me a sample of (really delicious) fair trade coffee and let me on my way.
Fair trade isn't a new concept for Ten Thousand Villages. The company was founded in 1946 by Edna Ruth Byler, who believed that she could provide sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a viable marketplace for their products in North America - and that's exactly what she did.
As one of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Ten Thousand Villages continues to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries.
Each item in the store has a tag saying where it was made, and oftentimes specifically names the person who made it. Nearly everything I saw was made of recycled magazines, computer chips, metal, wood - you name it. These pieces were created by very resourceful folks who were fairly compensated for their time and skill.
I was surprised at how affordable most of their items were, too. They have a wide variety of items ranging from accessories and jewelry, coffee and chocolate, and even kids toys like these super cute finger puppets.
I've been spreading the word about this amazing company ever since I visited, and I don't intend to stop. Supporting stores like these with your purchases helps to make our world a fairer place. And you don't even have to leave your home to do it - you can shop online here to get their amazing fair trade products delivered to your home.
What interesting ethical shops have you found in your area? Let me know!