A Trade Magazine for New Age Retailers

Ten Thousand Villages


302 Pearl Parkway, Suite 114
San Antonio, TX 78215


Owners: Ten Thousand Villages US

Hours: m-f: 9:30am-6pm, sat: 9am-6pm, sun: 10am-4pm

Year Opened: 2013

Square Footage: 1500 sqft (including back room)

Products in stock: Fair trade home décor, jewelry, accessories, gifts, coffee, chocolate

Inventory Method/ Software Use: Microsoft NAV

Inventory Turn: 4 times a year

Categories that Drive business: Jewelry, accessories, kitchen, and an emerging category is baby.



Can you tell us a little bit about your store and the story behind Ten Thousand Villages?

We like to say that we’re more than a store. We’re a global maker-to-market movement that is igniting social change. Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income and break the cycle of poverty by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

Why did you decide the open the store?

There are currently 55 Ten Thousand Villages stores in the United States, including our San Antonio location. We decided to open our store at The Pearl because the thriving community offered a good opportunity to share our fair trade mission with so many potential new customers.

As one of the pioneers of Fair Trade how do you see the movement these days, and how your brand was able to create a positive impact on local businesses and communities around the globe?

We believe that the future of the fair trade movement is bright, especially as consumers become more aware of the impact their purchases make on the environment and on the lives of the people who make what they buy. There’s been an increase in ethical shopping in the United States, and we will keep evolving with the rapidly changing retail landscape so that we can continue to connect shoppers with the craft and cultures of our artisan partners.

As the global economy continues to put pressure on craftspeople to make their products faster and cheaper, small workshops and communities are at increased risk for exploitation and poverty. Our greatest impact lies in our unique model, which is based on transparent price agreements and upfront payments that create a financial safety net for artisans and their families. Our fair trade principles were founded on the bold belief that when marginalized populations have reliable income, work, and a place to sell their goods, they thrive. They can put food on the table, provide education for their children, save for the future, and enrich their communities.

How would you describe your store type?

Ten Thousand Villages San Antonio is a place where customers can explore handmade products from 30 different countries, learn about the process and materials that make each item, and find the perfect fair trade gift for a friend or themselves.

How would you describe your target market?

Our customers are looking for high-quality, handmade products that have a positive impact on the world.

How would you best describe your store layout? Do you often move products around the store to create a better flow and encourage purchase behavior?

Our store layout is very open. Customers enjoy wandering through the various “stations” we have created throughout, and usually do a floor set move every six weeks, according to the season or holiday, to keep our local customers on their toes. We find that if a customer comes in and automatically knows where to go to find an item, they won’t shop as much as they would if they have to wander around a little bit and discover something new along the way.

How do you promote your brand awareness and product mix to grow profit margin?

One of the ways we promote brand awareness is by getting involved in the Pearl’s activities and building relationships with our neighbors. We also focus outreach efforts on partnerships with local nonprofits like the San Antonio Food Bank, The Children’s Hospital, women’s shelters, and Girl Scouts. We take monthly donations of our products that customers have purchased in our store to organizations, which has been a successful way for us to connect with our customers and our community.

Do you also work with local makers or only work with global artisans?

We only work directly with global artisans, however we do carry a few products in the store from ethical American vendors.

When creating a new product line for the store, what is your selection criteria?

Our team of designers collaborates closely with our artisan partners to select the best products. The capacity of each artisan group, access to local materials, and current trends are all taken into account as traditional craft techniques are employed to create new collections.

Any plans to expand your business to attract a broader audience?

Of course! Our vision is that one day all artisans in developing countries will have access to fair wages and dignified work. With each product sold and donation received, we expand our ability to deepen our artisan relationships, explore new partnerships, and continue our work to break the cycle of poverty.


Roberta Gazzarolle
Author: Roberta Gazzarolle

Publisher at Retailing Insight Magazine.


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