Ten Thousand Villages may have invented the fair trade model. Founded in 1946, the company “strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries” by buying their goods at fair prices and selling them in the United States. Additionally, their business model makes it possible for skilled craftspeople to earn an income in their field rather than abandon it for higher paying, less gratifying work elsewhere. Ten Thousand Villages has been consistently ranked one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute (there are some surprising names on the list, so check it out).
The company has a number of retail locations across the country (including one in Charlottesville) where they sell home goods, figurines, textiles, jewelry, and accessories. It’s a lovely little place to peruse and their items make great gifts. Unlike some of the stores I’ve featured here, I’m quite familiar with Ten Thousand Villages. We bought most of our ornaments there last Christmas and I even thought about working in my local shop.
Below are a few of my favorite items from their online catalog. I also highly recommend their Equal Exchange coffee and chocolate selection.