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IOWA CITY - Ten Thousand Villages, a gift shop that focuses on fair trade international goods, will open a pop-up store for the holidays in a city-owned space that formerly housed the Wedge Downtown.
Since Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit, all store employees will be volunteers. Money raised during the six-week sale period will go toward $100,000 needed to open a permanent store in Iowa City, said Janis Perkins, president of the Iowa City Ten Thousand Villages board of directors.
'This will be an effort to raise some of that money and see how Iowa City responds to the concept,” Perkins said.
Starting Nov. 21, shoppers will be able to buy items that include jewelry, scarves, kitchenware, wall décor and home accents.
Ten Thousand Villages was started in 1946 by Mennonite Edna Ruth Byler, who didn't think Puerto Rican women were paid enough for their needlework. She sold handcrafted items out of her trunk, educating buyers about the lives of artisans around the world. Byler became part of the fair trade movement, which seeks to help producers from developing countries get fair prices for their goods.
Ten Thousand Villages started opening franchises in 1997, mostly in upscale suburbs and college towns.
The non-profit reported $19 million in revenue in the year that ended March 31. Most of that - $16.2 million - was plowed back into 'furnishing materials, teaching craft-making and facilitating import, marketing and sales of products of impoverished and disadvantaged people in developing countries,” according to the group's most recent tax forms.
'They pay the artisans before the products are shipped to the U.S.,” Perkins said. 'If something doesn't sell, the artisans have been paid in full.”
The City of Iowa City, which owns the 4,580-square-foot space, had not yet signed a lease with the local Ten Thousand Villages franchise, Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin said Tuesday. He expects that to happen by the end of the week.
The group is seeking volunteers starting Friday to help clean and set up the store. For more information, contact organizers at email@example.com or (319) 541-7853.
Before the pop-up, the city has agreed to lease the space to six Iowa City women's clothing stores for a warehouse sale Friday and Saturday. The sale will feature clearance items from Catherine's, Textiles, Velvet Coat, Dulcinea, Nori, Revival and Jami Jewelry, Catherine Champion said Tuesday.