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Unique Holiday Shopping: Ten Thousand Villages

With trends towards “responsible consumerism”, and avoiding big-box stores in favour of local or socially-concious retailers, shopping at Ten Thousand Villages (10432-82 Ave) is an easy choice this holiday season. This not-for-profit, fair trade retailer promotes “giving back”, carrying only products that are handmade in developing communities all over the world. If you’ve made a commitment to shop responsibly this Christmas — or perhaps you’re looking for a unique gift for the person on your list who is impossible to buy for — the products at Ten Thousand Villages can help make your whole holiday socially-concious.

Unique gift ideas and holiday decor await at Ten Thousand Villages, where everything is handmade and fair trade.

The name of the company was inspired by a quote from Ghandi that claims “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages . . . we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient amounts to eat and clothe themselves with”. Thus, the mission of Ten Thousand Villages is to ensure that the well-being of the people in these villages are acknowledged and can benefit from their retail practices. As a fair trade retailer, this shop ensures the artisans that create their products are paid a fare wage. As a direct trade retailer, they also ensure that the artisans get paid in full, directly at the time of purchase.

The friendly, knowledgeable volunteer staff will help you select the perfect gift, and tell you the fascinating story behind each product.

For Getting in the Spirit: Count down the days until Christmas with an organic, fair-trade milk chocolate advent calendar. Wrap your gifts with bows and garlands made from recycled paper, and decorate your tree with unique, handmade tree ornaments. If you’re planning on setting up a nativity scene, Ten Thousand Villages has several varieties and styles made from various materials (one is even made from a Haitian oil drum) in countries around the world including Peru, Indonesia, Niger, Thailand, and Nepal.

For Your Guests: If you will be hosting guests in your home during the holiday, serve them Christmas Blend Fair Trade coffee. If you yourself don’t drink coffee but need to have some on-hand to serve to guests, try the Christmas coffee variety gift box; it includes four kinds of coffee, including decaf, and the packages are small enough so that you won’t have to buy a full-size package for just a handful of guests.

For the Hostess: Any hostess would be delighted with a piece of handmade ceramic or recycled aluminum dishware or tableware, made in countries like Vietnam and Nepal.

For the Person Who Has Everything: Some people are impossible to buy for, and for them a perfect gift idea would be a “Living Gift”. Purchased on their behalf, these gifts are given to someone in a developing country so that they get access to resources they need to start improving their quality of life. Starting at only $24, you can purchase training, education, a farmyard, or trees. When you purchase one of these gifts, you will receive a card to give to the person on whose behalf you’re buying the gift for, describing the gift and the community that the gift will be given in. Learn more about the Living Gifts online.

For Kids: A variety of toys like wooden yo-yo’s, old fashioned toys, worry dolls, tops, finger puppets, and pencil toppers make great stocking stuffers.

For Everyone: This beautiful hardcover coffee table book, Fair Trade: A Human Journey, contains 350 photographs and a narrative about the men and women in developing communities around the world who produce the commodities that are part of our daily lives.

Ten Thousand Villages is located in Edmonton at 10432-82 Ave; Mon – Thu 10 am – 5:30 pm; Fri 10 am – 8 pm; Sat 10 am – 6 pm; Closed Sun. From December 10 – 22, they will be open until 8 pm Mon – Sat. Ten Thousand Villages has several stores across Canada; visit www.tenthousandvillages.ca for a complete list of locations.

– Breanna Mroczek

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