Fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages closes 10 stores in restructuring

Ten Thousand Villages is closing 10 stores across Canada — including the Broadmead Shopping Centre location — as the non-profit fair-trade group restructures amid what it calls a “challenging” retail environment.

Victoria’s other Ten Thousand Villages location at 1009 Government St. will remain open. The Broadmead store will close April 30.

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“Our struggling economy has had a negative impact on our artisan partners,” said Maria Lyons, manager of the downtown store. “By reducing infrastructure costs and downsizing national operations, we believe we will strengthen Ten Thousand Villages and be better situated to support artisans for years to come.”

Six of the 10 closures are in B.C., including two in Vancouver as well as stores in Langley, Pentiction and Kelowna. The company, headquartered in New Hamburg, Ont., is also shutting locations in Toronto, Kingston and London.

About 20 jobs at the head office will also be trimmed.

The company will keep 34 retail locations and its recently re-launched online store will remain open.

Ten Thousand Villages has provided income to artisans in countries around the world for more than six decades. It is the largest and oldest non-profit fair-trade organization in North America and buys products from small producers in far-flung places like India, Peru, Cambodia and Uganda.

“The decision to make these retail and staffing changes was not an easy one — and certainly not one we make lightly — but it is a decision we need to make to ensure we are able to support our artisan communities for years to come,” Ryan Jacobs, general manager of the organization, said in a statement. “We are fully committed to our mission of improving the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged people. That remains our primary objective.”

Jacobs said the the new plan will uphold the organization’s operational principles and fair-trade business practices, leverage current strengths and partner more closely with Ten Thousand Villages in the U.S.

Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of the Mennonite Central Committee and works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. It sells artisan-crafted personal accessories, home decor and gift items.

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