The Makers’ Market
A go-to destination for unique products, Ten Thousand Villages ensures that every purchase directly impacts the life and community of an artisan in a developing country.
When it comes to offering a vast selection of unique and meaningful gifts, home décor, fashion and jewelry hand-crafted by artisans worldwide, nonprofit retailer Ten Thousand Villages in Redondo Beach’s Riviera Village has the market cornered. Think embroidered wall hangings picturing birds, monkeys and elephants lovingly stitched by women in India, olive oil soap infused with Dead Sea mud made by a group of Arab and Jewish women in Israel, and colorful saris sewn by women in Bangladesh.
Best of all, the retailer has generated more than $2 million in sales since it opened in Redondo Beach in 2014, with proceeds going to help 20,000 artisans in more than 35 developing countries throughout South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. The goal? To provide the makers with an opportunity to earn a fair and steady income, in turn breaking the cycle of generational poverty and igniting social change.
“The store is part of a global maker to market movement,” says Tom Hoffarth, a founding member of the Redondo Beach location, one of 20 company-run retail stores and another 40 licensed stores operated by the Pennsylvania-based company. “We hope we can make every little bit of our consumer purchases count and be part of the solution.”
Expect a 1,000-square-foot space that formerly housed a men’s clothing store, where makers’ stories are portrayed via videos, graphic displays, and story cards included with the items sold (stories chronicle how the artisans’ lives are changed, cultural background and sourcing of product materials), as well an ever-changing mix of products ranging in price from $5 for chocolate and $10 for coffee, to many items for $25, $50 and $100, and up to the $300 range for handbags.
Among the most popular and creative treasures to be found: a peace dove pin crafted by Cambodia artisans using bomb casings; one-of-a-kind table cloths, napkins, pillows, blankets and bed covers from a handicraft organization in India; baskets woven in Bangladesh using recycled materials such as seagrass, jute and palm leafs; metal wall hangings carved in Haiti from oil barrels; statues made using Africa’s ancient “lost wax” technique; bronze singing bowls from Nepal; and hammock chairs hand-woven in Nicaragua.
Coming up, look for the retailer to hold its annual rug event (showcasing hand-knotted Chobi, Persian, Kazak and other types of rugs), Jan. 22-26, plus another rug event at American Martyrs Catholic Church in Manhattan Beach, Jan. 16-19. Additional sales and special events throughout the year will celebrate the Redondo Beach store’s fifth anniversary.
Ten Thousand Villages, at 1907 S. Catalina Ave., is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. tenthousandvillages.com
Photographs: Ten Thousand Villages, Courtesy Of Jerry Fleury