While Raleigh may not be the first place most people think of when trying to find global wares the City of Oaks is quickly being realized as a truly global city, offering an array of music, art, food, and items from around the globe. One of these spots lies less than ten minutes from downtown and offers local charm from a world away.
Hidden in the mish mash of boutiques and eateries in downtown Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping district is a shop unknowingly passed by time after time by various patrons. The shop looks unassuming enough, a small door on the side of a building and a few interesting knick-knacks in a nearby series of windows. Some may be interested by the store’s name- Ten Thousand Villages, and those curious enough to stop in will be treated to a vast array of uniquities from around the world, each holding a level of simple charm as well as a sense of responsible consumerism for the patron.
Ten Thousand Villages is Raleigh’s prime source for handmade jewelry, gifts, and home decor- all of which are created by artisans from thirty-eight countries around the world. In addition Ten Thousand Villages is the founder of the World Fair Trade Organization which strives to improve the lives of global citizens by providing opportunities for artisans to sell their creations at fair prices. The money we pay for a blanket or bag of tea at Ten Thousand Villages directly benefits the artisan by providing an income for food, education, health care, and housing.
With over seventy locations across the nation Ten Thousand Villages was created on the idea of sustainable and responsible consumerism. The name derived from a quote by the Indian ideological leader Mahatma Gandhi:
“…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 to eat and clothe themselves with.”
To Ten Thousand Villages each village represents a unique people, each with products and crafts born from unique culture and traditions. These products represent an entire culture, and thus should be appreciated through fair pay and ethical treatment.
Susane, a volunteer sales associate (as Ten Thousand Villages consists mostly of volunteers selling the goods) at the Raleigh location explained the benefits of responsible and global consumerism.
“We’re all connected; if one person is treated unjustly then we are all responsible. Doing fair trade is doing what we can”
Another Volunteer at the shop, Glenda, echoed the same sentiments, happy to be supporting artisans, especially women without any other forms of revenue, from so far away.
“It’s more empowering to women abroad to support fair trade. It creates more independence”
In addition to supporting responsible consumerism Ten Thousand Villages is worth a look for its many interesting knick knacks and home wares. As you walk down the stairs to the shop you are greeted with various portraits from Africa, and as you continue in you are offered free samples of teas from Asia or coffee from Africa. Children can play with drums and other toys from Morocco, while others pursue the various scarves and gloves from Peru. Visiting Ten Thousand Villages is an adventure in shopping, and for a few minutes you feel as if you have left downtown and entered a whole other part of the world.