A group of shoppers gathered outside Ten Thousand Villages Thursday morning, waiting for the shop to open. They'd come to take advantage of a store-wide sale, though they said the reason for the sale made them sad. After more than 30 years in business, the gift shop in downtown Newton will be closing.
It's a bittersweet moment for manager DawnEna Davidson.
"We've been here for 30 years, and we just want to thank the community," she said. "... People just love the store, and people love to come here."
Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retail store that sells handmade jewelry, chocolate, musical instruments and home décor from more than 30 developing countries.
It wasn't just the store's eclectic selection of gifts that attracted shoppers — people also were drawn to the store's mission, which is helping to grow economies in poorer countries. They work directly with each artisan or group to ensure the artisans are working under safe conditions and not using child labor.
The store's last day will be Oct. 30, and starting today merchandise will be discounted 50 percent. The artisans who created the merchandise already have been paid.
Davidson said a decision was made to close the non-profit gift shop by the shop's board. The Newton store has seen a downturn in sales, which Davidson believes has been driven by the economic downturn and consumers spending less money.
She said the best way to help the store is to come shop and clear out the store's remaining merchandise. Gift cards to the store still will be accepted.
Other Ten Thousand Villages shops in the region will remain open, such as the ones in Hutchinson and Lawrence. Customers also can shop online at www.tenthousandvillages.com.
Davidson is thankful for the work done by the shop's board and 30 volunteers, who help run the cash register, answer questions from customers and unpack merchandise.
"They're so selfless with all their hours of help," Davidson said.