Ten Thousand Villages

I’ve walked by it a dozen times.

Sometimes I thought “what cute stuff…I totally can’t afford that store”. Sometimes I thought of Hillary Clinton. Sometimes I was still preoccupied by my visit to Knitch, the yarn store behind it. Sometimes I was daydreaming about getting more flowers from Foxgloves & Ivy next to it.

I didn’t walk in until last Saturday.

The brunette behind the counter in the cardigan greeted me pleasantly enough with a “welcome, have you been in before?”

I braced myself for the hard sell. I said “no” in a low voice and avoided eye contact, as I’ve learned to do over the years – the international body language message that conveys “leave me to shop in peace”. She wasn’t swayed and continued on her mission. “Let me tell you a little about us,” she said and I cringed. “We’re a 501(c)3 non-profit. Our goods are fair trade and I’m a volunteer here. The proceeds go back to the artisans in their home countries, so if you have any questions about the items or their origins, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Her tone was pleasant, void of the pushiness I’d prepped myself for and entirely non-threatening. I let my guard down, still thinking “I won’t be able to afford any of this…but it sure is pretty”.

I eyed some jewelry and made my way around the right side of the store when I spotted a turtle (I’m a sucker for turtles) and made a bee line. $5. Slap me on the ass and call me Kate. I picked it up. I spotted authentic dresses from Africa and made my way to their corner, only to be distracted by a small burlap bag with beads on the end of a thread that cinched the top closed. Inside were three cats of varying sizes. The mother of a new kitten, I snatched them up. $6. Turning around my heart leapt at giant round baskets like the sea grass numbers I saw at road side stands in South Carolina last month but didn’t stop for. Yet another reasonable price. I threw the other two bits in the basket. Organic fair trade coffee. Okay. In the basket.

I was slowly closing in on the register and telling myself I had to stop when a bracelet from India with domino sized/shaped green glass blocks for $6.75 caught my eye.

Must. Leave. Store.

$34 later, I walked out with a sense of inflated and inappropriate accomplishment knowing I’d helped someone(s) in counties I may never visit. I felt ashamed for having judged the store so harshly before walking in and I knew I’d be back – with friends.

The next time you find yourself near the intersection of Highland and St. Charles and you see a cute little store with a welcoming face behind the register and beautiful eclectic wares in the window, stop in. Say hi. Help someone on the other side of the world.

Link love: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/

1 Comment so far

  1. tiffany (unregistered) on September 6th, 2007 @ 9:02 am

    so. did not. need. to read. this. post. my credit card company thanks you maigh.

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