Shop around the corner

Ideas: Shop around the corner


Shop around the corner

Story: Bridget Broihahn

Photos: Bridget Broihahn

Downtown Champaign is such a great place to eat, play and shop. There are many shops that have that unique items for that special person on your list. One is Ten Thousand Villages, located on Walnut St.

It takes a village

Ten Thousand Villages is a retailer selling fair trade crafts, housewares, jewelry, décor, personal accessories and gift items from some 38 countries from more than 130 artisan groups. The shop is on the corner of E. Chester St and Walnut St. across from the City of Champaign building. Ten Thousand Villages is one of the largest fair trade organizations worldwide, and is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization.

Manager Emily King said the store is more than a store.

“We’re two-fold. We’re a not-for-profit, but we need to make a profit because we’re in business,” she said.

The company develops long term relationships with artisans where they are unemployed or underemployed, or where the area lacks opportunities for income.

“It’s wonderful to see them have an income, then create co-ops, with the ripple effect making a positive impact on communities and schools. The mentally and physically disabled, as well as women who were in the sex trade can develop skills and that is huge for them,” King said.

King said that the local store has a board of directors, two full-time staff members and 35-40 volunteers at any given time.

“We operate similar to a franchise,” she said. King took a trip to Kenya in March 2016. “I got to see some of our villages we have a relationship with. I take tremendous pride to represent these villages and artisans. They can’t believe that people will volunteer their time to sell their product. I was so humbled by it all. They had overwhelming gratitude,” she said.

And these artisans who are crafting products that to them are something that has been passed down for hundreds of years are amazed that their products are in demand in other places. These traditional handcrafts are lovely representations of how life is at another part of the globe.

“It’s all about fair trade, transparency in business, sustainability, poverty alleviation and creating buyers for these products,” King said.

The store is filled with something for everyone, too. And purchasing an item for a gift or just something for oneself helps others.

“This has allowed people to have a fair paying job that will not leave the area. It’s not seasonal and it’s something they can count on,” King said.

Ten Thousand Villages is located at 105 N. Walnut, Champaign. For more information, go to their website at tenthousandvillages.com/champaign or call them at 217-352-8200.