It is back to the roots but with a fresh look for a non-profit organization with a global conscience. Ten Thousand Villages has returned to where it all first started in the Victoria area: Saanich’s Broadmead Shopping Centre.
“We have had a history of being there,” said Arnaldo Shimura, manager. “It was the first location that we opened in Victoria.”
Ten Thousand Villages describes itself as creating “opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.” Its catalogue of products include handcrafted jewellery and personal accessories, natural home decor, as well as food and skin care products.
The Mennonite Central Committee, a relief, service and peace agency representing several Anabaptist Christian denominations, oversees Ten Thousand Villages, which operates two locations in the Greater Victoria area: Downtown Victoria and Broadmead Shopping Centre.
The store marked its return to Broadmead Shopping Centre after a five-year absence with a tour that showcased a new outlay. In fact, the Broadmead store is the first store in western Canada to feature the new look. “It’s quite different,” said Shimura. It is brighter with an eye towards appealing towards Millennials, he said. Other elements aim for a more consistent brand across stores.
But if Ten Thousand Villages aims for a different audience and visual appeal, its mission has changed little, he said.
“The mission is still the same mission,” said Shimura. “The mission is always to put people before profit.”
To this end, Ten Thousand Villages is prepared to work past issues like the current Monsoon-related flooding in Bangladesh. It has impacted artisans working on Christmas items, but Ten Thousand Villages has already taken measures, said Shimura.
Under existing arrangements, Ten Thousand Villages has already sent affected artisans half of their payments. This will help them gap this down period, said Shimura. And even if the delays bump up against Christmas, Ten Thousand Villages will find ways to get their products on store shelves, even if the timing might change.
“There is always Christmas next year,” he said. “It’s a long-term relationship.”