RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Ten Thousand Villages Richmond — a nonprofit in Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood that sells crafts made in developing countries as a fair-trade market — may be forced to shut down soon if sales don’t pick up.
The executive director and store manager of the nonprofit is now asking for help to keep its doors open and support developing countries in need.
The nonprofit is a fair-trade organization that pays international artisans in advance for their goods, with the goal of helping them maintain a good life. Then, the organization invests that money back into the store, so they can keep buying products from the global artisans.
The Richmond nonprofit also partners with local charities.
“People are really caring more now than ever about where their items come from. To know that there was no child labor involved. To know that women are getting paid fairly and that it wasn’t made in factories,” said Aisha Eqbal, the executive director.
The store sells home décor, personal accessories and gift items from countries like India, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
The mission is to offer customers an option to shop for products that are ethically and sustainably made, Eqbal added.
The store opened in 1995, but she said the foot traffic and sales have dropped since the summertime by about 50%.
“I think people are really feeling the economy struggle and, you know, brick and mortar stores have been suffering, really,” Eqbal said.
The clock is ticking for the store’s survival as online shopping dominates the retail world, Eqbal said. And as a result, it’s causing a never-ending cycle of financial issues, threatening to shut down the store.
“Right now, my biggest struggle is that I can’t order any holiday ornaments. With retail, you have to order and sell. Order and sell. But because we’re so financially tight — because overhead is so high and rent and staff — I can’t order,” Eqbal said. “We really need money, so we can continue to buy from the artisans and support them.”
The organization is launching a recovery campaign with an online fundraiser to try and reel in donations.
They’re also holding events, like the ‘Dance In Unity‘ charity and culture event, throughout November.
“We really hope you’ll take the time to come out and support us,” Eqbal said.
To learn more about the non-profit and its recovery campaign, visit Ten Thousand Villages’ online donation page.