Serving Toronto's most liveable community with the Annex Gleaner

CHATTER: Ten Thousand Villages folding (Feb. 2020)

February 27th, 2020 · No Comments


After seventy-four years in business, the Canadian company Ten Thousand Villages announced the close of its head office, distribution centre, web store, wholesale operations, and several remaining company stores. 

The store at 474 Bloor St. W. has been a fixture of the community for fifteen years. The stores aimed to connect artisans and marginalized communities to the market and provide a fair and stable income to the producers of their goods.

Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest fair-trade organization in North America, selling artisan-crafted home decor, gift items, and personal accessories from around the world. 

Products come from 27 countries, and more than 73 artisan groups, which provide work for more than 20,000 individual people. 

About 70 per cent of the artisans are women. Some groups also seek to employ persons with physical disabilities.

“We had hoped for a different outcome,” says Interim CEO Brent Zorgdrager. “But we are grateful for the opportunity to have been part of more than seven decades of providing a sustainable and fair income for tens of thousands of artisans. In bringing their products to Canadian consumers, we’ve been able to share traditions of beauty and creativity across the globe.” 

Some of Ten Thousand Villages Canada stores are independently owned and have chosen to remain open and will be able to operate under licensing agreement with the Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCCC).

Stores in Alberta, one in Quebec, and two in Ontario will remain open.

Carolyn Quinn has been a manager at Ten Thousand Villages on Bloor for a year and a half. She started as a volunteer six years ago before being promoted to assistant manager at the Danforth and then manager at the Bloor St. location.

“Everyone is here because they are super passionate about what we do,” said Quinn. “I’ve really enjoyed my time working here. It has been a sad week but it has been so amazing, the response we have gotten from everyone coming in. I think sometimes you don’t realize the impact it’s made until you find out it’s leaving. It’s really helped us process it here, just seeing how much of an impact it’s made to the community.”

Ten Thousand Villages on Bloor St. will close its doors on March 31.

—Tanya Ielyseieva, Gleaner News

Tags: Annex · News