Bangladesh Artisans

Stitchers at CJW's jute unit
You’re perusing one of our stores when you see it: a sign advertising an unbelievable promotion and deals galore. But wait. Won’t that sale price have a negative impact on Ten Thousand Villages’ suppliers and artisans?

In a word – No.

Here’s why. Decades ago, we helped shape the foundational principles of Fair Trade. These principles guide every aspect of our business. Two of them in particular come into play when ensuring our promotions don’t hurt artisans:

Fair Trading Practices

Ten Thousand Villages pays 50% as soon as we place an order, and the balance before the products even leave the country of origin. So the products on our shelves have already been paid for long before we mark them down. There is no impact on those who crafted them. This way of doing business makes sense given the context. Marginalized people and organizations in countries where Ten Thousand Villages purchase don’t have access to the variety of financing options we take for granted in North America.

Payment of a Fair Price

We are committed to fair and respectful negotiation with our artisan partners. That means we don’t pressure them to lower their prices simply so we can pass on those savings to customers and/or increase our profit margins. Instead, we work with them to develop products that meet three criteria:

  1. We respect the artisans’ cultural traditions and products are made from raw materials they can readily access.
  2. We must be confident our customers (read: you!) in the North American market will be interested in buying them.
  3. Artisans sell the items to us at a price they consider “fair,” and which will not be too high for North American customers once we add a mark-up to cover our operating costs.

Our artisan partners’ chosen price allows them to provide fair wages, basic support and benefits for their workers. And since we agree upon these prices long before we dream up our promotions, there’s no negative impact on artisans when we have a sale.

Discounts Actually Help Everyone

That’s the truth: promotions allow us to sell more products, free up space and increase cash flow. When we have money in the bank and shelves to fill, we can strengthen our business and purchase more from artisans in the future. The more Ten Thousand Villages sells, the more we’re able to buy from artisans. The more we buy, the more artisan employment opportunities there are. And when artisans are employed in meaningful work, they’re able to provide for their families and plan for their futures.

Ultimately, that’s our goal: We want to do our part to ensure our partners can run sustainable businesses and provide well for themselves and their workers.

So go ahead. Take that marked down silk scarf, swingy earrings or gorgeous wall hanging to the counter. You can rest easy knowing that Fair Trade deals are good for you – and for our artisans too.

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Leaves Bloom Floor Screen   Love Birds Sculpture

Share your comments


  1. Karen Timoshuk says:

    Thank you so much for answering the “discount” question…I’ve wondered that for a while and now my mind is at ease 🙂

  2. elsie driedger says:

    Thank you for the article on reduced pricing – customers have expressed concern about whether artisans receive less if prices are reduced.

  3. Lori Sager says:

    Very well said. New folks in the stores should have this as required reading during orientation.