What Works: Ten Thousand Villages

4:06 PM, Jan 18, 2011   |    comments
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  • Ten Thousand Villages
  • You may want to make your first stop a unique store on Euclid Avenue just across from Cleveland State University.

    Everything in Ten Thousand Villages is something you won't find in any other store in Cleveland--jewelry, clothing, musical instruments, art toys and more, and it's all the work of artisans in some of the poorest places on the planet. 

    "The people we work with are living in the highest poverty index places in the world," said Ten Thousand Villages director Julie Verdon. "We're giving them a way to make a sustainable living."

    The shop creates a market for native crafts in a network of 200 stores in the U.S. and Canada.  The group's fair trade practices offer the artisans training, design and marketing guidance and what is a living wage by local standards. 

    "I am able to pay for school for my children, food and clothing and even a cow for milk," said a soft stone carver in Kenya, beaming at his good fortune at being able to better himself and his family through his work.

    In a recent visit to the Ten Thousand Villages shop in Cleveland Julie Verdon showed off unique wooden picture frames.

    "They're covered with recycled tires from the slums of India," she said.

    A beautiful bowl was made from recycled magazine pages.

    ""The women who make these are very skilled.   They are traditionally trained as weavers so their work is perfect," she said.

    Unique fabric items in the store are beautiful.

    "They always have nice fabrics and tablecloths here," one shopper said. 

    "We have customers who come here from all over northeast Ohio for unique gifts,"  Verdon said. "The gifts are reasonably priced and our customers know what they spend here is helping support others who otherwise may have no way of supporting themselves."



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