Ten Thousand Villages closing nine 'unprofitable' fair trade stores

Nine of the Ten Thousand Villages fair trade stores in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan have closed. The retailer's CEO says they were unprofitable — in part because of changing consumer habits.

Changing consumer habits putting financial pressure on stores, retailer's CEO says

Items made by artisans around the world are sold in Ten Thousand Villages stores. Nine stores will be closed as the fair trade retailer makes changes to how to sells its items. (CBC)

Ten Thousand Villages has announced it is closing nine of its "unprofitable" fair trade stores.

Retail stores in Calgary, Saskatoon, two in Montreal, two in Ontario — St. Jacobs and Stratford — will close. Those stores join the shop in Lethbridge, Alta, which closed at the end of 2017, and two independently operated stores in Red Deer, Alta., and Windsor, Ont.

The retail stores were started by Mennonite Central Committee Canada in 1946. They sell items made by artisans around the world, often using local materials that are natural or recycled. It pays the artisans for their work to give them a "fair, stable income," the store's website says.

Ten Thousand Villages CEO Holly deGraaf said in a release that the retail industry in Canada is experiencing turmoil as consumers change how they shop, "resulting in financial pressures and closures."

Concerned about impact on artisans

The retailer said it will focus on reducing further loses and plan to work to improve sales at the 25 stores that will remain open, as well as its website.

"We have communicated this news to all Ten Thousand Villages staff, and our priority will be to work out these closures with respect for our staff, volunteers and the communities they serve, as well as our artisan partners," deGraaf said.

MCC Canada executive director Rick Cober Bauman said it was a difficult decision to close the stores.

"We are deeply concerned about the impact on artisans, some of whom will have reduced access to markets for their products," he said.

"Artisans have been paid in full for the goods we have purchased from them, in keeping with fair trade principles."


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