Ten Thousand Villages in Denver Colorado, is a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories, textiles, art and sculpture, serveware, jewelry, and gift items from around the globe. We feature products from over 130 artisan groups in 38 developing countries as part of network of over 390 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products
Ten Thousand Villages began in 1946 when a Mennonite woman, Edna Ruth Byler, brought back beautifully embroidered linens from Puerto Rico to sell to her friends- she realized the difficulty the artisans had in finding buyers for their products and she desired to assist these women attain a sustainable market. As her travels continued, so did her venture and eventually the Mennonite Brotherhood expounded her idea into a world mission effort and in the 1970’s permanent stores opened to sell handicrafts.
Ten Thousand Villages currently bolsters the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans. Ten Thousand Villages accomplishes this by establishing a sustainable market for handmade products in North America, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.
Ten Thousand Villages in Denver opened in 1981 as a thrift and gift store, selling high quality used items and products handcrafted by artisans in developing countries. Staffed by volunteers from three local Mennonite Churches, and under the guidance of a board of directors, the store grew and grew changing locations four times. In 1998 the store moved to Cherry Creek North and officially became Ten Thousand Villages Denver, dropping the thrift section of the store. Through the many hours of volunteers, staff, and board members, the store has served the Denver area for over 30 years, improving the quality of life for thousands of artisans around the world.
Our name, Ten Thousand Villages, originates from a quote by Mahatma Gandhi stating, "...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 [funds] to eat and clothe themselves with." We believe that each village in the world represents a unique, distinctive people, offering extraordinary products born of their rich cultures and traditions, and we desire to uphold that belief in all that we do.
We strive to fulfill our vision, that one day all artisans in the developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live a life of quality.
Thank you for your interest in our store and its vision and mission. We hope you will join us in our quest to improve the lives of our artisan partners.
Meet Our Staff:
Charlotte Otto, Store Manager
Charlotte has been an enthusiastic supporter of Ten Thousand Villages since first walking through its doors in 2007. Her love of art, travel and global development inspired her to become the store’s Assistant Manager shortly thereafter, and then Store Manager in January of 2013. Her motivating force continues to be Ten Thousand Villages’ mission of bringing hope and justice to the poor while sharing the artisans’ stories and fair trade crafts with the Denver community. A few of Charlotte’s favorite items are the oriental rugs from Pakistan, jewelry from Peru, and, of course, the chocolate.
Brooke Ophoff, Floor Manager
Brooke’s love of Ten Thousand Villages began the instant she learned of it and that devotion deepens daily as her knowledge of the organization, the artisans, and fair trade grows. She loves that TTV is a tangible way in the US to consistently empower craftspeople around the world to succeed and provide for their families. Brooke joined the Denver team in the fall of 2012 as the Floor Manager and coordinates the dedicated team of Volunteers, assists in the operating of the business, and spreads the mission of TTV.
Email Brooke at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Yount, Outreach and Publicity Coordinator
Rebecca began supporting Ten Thousand Villages in 2007 while living in Washington DC. Upon moving to Denver, she began shopping at the Cherry Creek North location. Her love of travel and interest in human rights make working with the fair trade organization a great fit. Rebecca coordinates the stores Benefit Shopping Nights, the Speakers Bureau, fosters new and ongoing community partnerships, and assists store staff and the board of directors with creative marketing and outreach strategies. She loves that in addition to a one stop shop for buying gifts and Equal Exchange coffee Denver Ten Thousand Villages is a great space for information on artisans throughout the developing world.
Email Rebecca at DenverOutreach@tenthousandvillages.com
Grace Burnham, Nonprofit Support Intern
Grace has been a fan of Ten Thousand Villages since she learned of the store in her hometown of Salem, Oregon back in 2005. New to the Denver area, Grace sought a meaningful internship and found that her values and interests aligned with Ten Thousand Villages. She loves that the organizations advocates for conscious consumerism and fair wages for artisans all over the world. Grace does whatever Charlotte, Brooke, and Rebecca tell her to! She is eager to work as a fair trade ambassador and further awareness about Ten Thousand Villages and their mission.