Tina Bale, Red Deer Ten Thousand Villages manager, sorts through some of the products available at the store, which will close in 2018. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages to close in 2018

This will be the last Christmas for Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages.

After being in the city for 10 years, Ten Thousand Villages Society Red Deer announced the store will be close in the new year because it couldn’t sell enough products to continue its operations.

“It’s been a struggle for the last few years,” said Tina Bale, store manager. “This has been looming for a little while and we’ve been trying everything to keep going, but it looks like the store has run its cycle.”

The struggling Alberta economy and the store’s move from south Red Deer to the downtown are big factors in the lack of sales for the store, said Bale.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade organization that sells products from over 120 artisan groups in 35 developing countries.

Bale was a volunteer at the store during its first year-and-a-half. After being away from the store for a few years, the board called her and asked is she can fill in as interim manager for six weeks. Those six weeks then turned into a four-year full-time position.

The decision to close the store was made at the store’s annual general meeting in October.

Bale said she will miss everything about the place.

“I was reading something online about the store closing and I started to tear up. I think it’s starting to sink in.

“You get to know people by name and it’ll be hard not seeing them anymore. But I know they will continue to support fair trade and Ten Thousand Villages,” she said.

There is no set timeline for the store’s closure, but Bale said it could be open as late as March.

Bale said she would love to see the store miraculously stay open.

“Maybe some philanthropist will step in and we won’t have to close at all. It’s the time of year we all like to believe in Christmas miracles,” she said.

The store is holding a big “advent sale” where different items will be 20 per cent off every day until Christmas.

Victor Doerksen, Ten Thousand Villages Society Red Deer board president, said there has been a lot of hard work and tremendous struggle the past 10 years.

“Charity would have been easier … it would have been simpler and quicker to write a cheque and donate the money,” Doerksen said in a message to the volunteers.

“But I still believe that while charity is a good short-term solution, our model of helping the artisans gain an income for their families by providing a market for something they have worked on to produce is still the best long-term solution.”

Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages has made $2.5 million in sales over 10 years.

After the store is closed products can still be purchased online or in Edmonton and Calgary stores.


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