Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade store, located in O’Bryonville at 2011 Madison Road, that has been a significant part of the outreach of Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship. Its mission is to provide a fair income to Third World People by marketing their hand crafted items and telling their stories in the US and Canada. Here is some history of how this store and the organization began: Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship began to have weekend Christmas Sales in 1988. At that time the sales were called SELFHELP Crafts. Our church was a small group of approximately 50 adults and kids. We needed to add a few hundred dollars to our budget and found out that by holding yearly craft sales, we could keep 10 per cent of the proceeds from the weekend. In those first years we would sell several thousand dollars worth of merchandise. We felt we were doing a positive thing for the artisans while helping out with our own monetary needs. We continued in this manner for a number of years until until our fellowship became financially sustainable without these extra funds. Karen Diller began as the chair of the weekend sale committee in 1988 and remained so until our last sale in the church basement in 2001. In 2000 we were blessed with a wonderful and encouraging customer base, with sales above $20,000. It was the right timing for Karen to spearhead the project of opening a store. Along with Karen, Ron Headings, Ann Nofziger and Phil Bontrager joined forces and became the Executive Committee. From 2001, until the doors of the store opened on November 2nd, 2002, that committee gained non profit status; wrote by-laws (both done by Ed Diller); raised $50,000, found, renovated and signed a lease for our current space; formed a full board; hired a manager, and communicated continuously with Ten Thousand Villages in Akron.

Once the store opened it took a village to keep our village operating smoothly.  There are numerous, dedicated volunteers (many from CMF) who support the store in one way or another and keep it running smoothly.  The Board and staff of the store also include numerous CMF members.   Darlene Rohrer-Meck, as the Executive Director, has lead the store to new sales records for calendar year 2013.  Britt Wyse and Nancy Whitehurst serve as staff and provide terrific support for Darlene and the store.  Board members include Ed Diller (Chair), Pam Venable (Vice Chair), Brian Hickey, (Treasurer)  Lisa Littner (Secretary), Jodi Bockenstette, Connie Bruins, Steve Hitt, Mary Ann Roncker and Linn Syravong.  Ten Thousand Villages of Cincinnati has provided an immense outreach for our church into the Cincinnati and world community.

Our Cincinnati store is one of many Ten Thousand Villages stores in North America that promote fair trade. The concept of bringing items from artisans in developing countries to sell in the US began in the 1940s. Edna Ruth Byler who was with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) at the time, bought and brought back beautiful needlework from Puerto Rico and began selling those items to people in her community from the trunk of her car. The concept caught on so well that soon other countries like Palestine and India were added to the list of countries with artisans whose items were bought and sold in the US . MCC then began a concerted effort to organize and support artisan co-ops in countries in which they already had programs. Most of the items were sold from Christmas sales in Mennonite church basements and fellowship halls throughout the US. In 1972 Lois Kreider, whose husband Robert was President of Bluffton College at the time, opened the first store in Bluffton. Soon a store was added in Newton, KS. From the early 70’s until the early 90’s many stores were opened in small Mennonite towns across the country. In the mid 80’s the Ten Thousand Villages business experienced a metamorphosis and its new name was born. Since 2000, Ten Thousand Villages has seen a huge growth in sales as well as new stores, opening 8 -10 stores per year. Ten Thousand Villages is comitted to fair trade and belongs to both The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and Fair Trade Federation. What Fair Trade means to Ten Thousand Villages: 1. Cash advances to artisans and prompt final payments. 2. A fair price paid for merchandise purchased. 3. Long term relationships with artisan groups. 4. Design collaboration with Ten Thousand Villages on current and future products. 5. Environmental consideration with emphasis on either recyclable materials or those which are plentiful in the natural environment. Our Mission: Ten Thousand Villages provides vital, fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit program of Mennonite Central Committee. To check out more about Ten Thousand Villages, or to buy merchandise online, go to: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/cincinnati.

We are happy to announce that we have extended our outreach and opened another store– Ten Thousand Villages Harper’s Point!  Their story will be added soon.  If you’d like to check out what they have to offer, or buy merchandise online, go to : http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/harperspoint

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