(Unexpected) Inspiration from Ten Thousand Villages

(Unexpected) Inspiration from Ten Thousand Villages

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I spent the 4th of July weekend in Montreat with my family.  With the exception of a few years in college and law school, I've spent every single July 4th there since I was little.  It's the perfect place for a family-friendly fun, and now it's special to take my own family there.  While Montreat has a lot of great qualities, I've never really thought of it as a place to shop.  It's close to Asheville, so you can always get in a little shopping at Biltmore Village (Lilly Pultizer, JCrew, etc) or The Tobacco Barn.  However, for as long as I can remember, Montreat has had a Ten Thousand Villages Store

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade organization that establishes a retail market in North America for handmade products created by artisans in very poor and unstable countries.  Revenues go to provide food, education, healthcare, and housing for artisans who would otherwise be living in poverty.  Since it was founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown to include 390 retail stores in the US.  All the stores are non-profit, and they are staffed 100% by volunteers.  To be totally honest, I always thought of it as a hippy store that had nothing for me, but I decided to take a peek in the Montreat store over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised!

Look past the windchimes and tie-dye...

A display of blue and white ceramics caught my eye.

Then I glanced up and saw a sunburst mirror from Peru in a unique style I've haven't seen all over the place.  It was quite large and $160!

Doesn't this cowhide drum from Kenya make a fantastic end table?  It was only $145!

Chic fireplace screens are hard to come by, but this handmade leafy tole version does the trick.  $98!

I fell in love with these huge woven straw covered baskets made by artisans in Bangladesh.  Wouldn't they make a great toy box?  You can't really get a great idea of the scale from this picture, but they are BIG and would hold plenty of toys.  $48!

 Ten Thousand Villages has lots of fabulous onyx items from Pakistan.  This pair of elephant bookends is adorable!  I believe they were less than $40!

This textured alpaca throw from Bolivia almost came home with me.  It was more expensive than most things at the store ($165) but still a great value for a great cause.

Another huge covered basket from Bangladesh, woven in kelly green straw.  

If you haven't stopped by Ten Thousand Villages before, look on their website for a location near you or you can shop online on their website.  You can find some really cute items for great prices, and, of course, it is a great way to support artisans who are working hard and using their God-given talents to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Here are a couple of my favorite items from their website:

A gorgeous solid onyx lamp for $110!

An adorable wooden zebra stool from Kenya:

And even more inspiring than the heart-warming story of Ten Thousand Villages was the basket of temporary "Presbyterian Tattoos" sitting by the cash register.  Even for $.30, somehow I just don't see those being a big seller.  But they did give my sister and me a good laugh! 

Hope you had a great 4th of July weekend!

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