Ten Thousand Villages is closing nine of its 34 stores across Canada. The stores sell fair trade products made by 20,000 artisans in 27 countries.
Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC Canada, says it was a very difficult decision. He explains the reason for the closures.
"The face of retail is changing a lot in Canada and Ten Thousand Villages, for its almost 70-year history, has depended on brick-and-mortar stores across the country. And, the sales in those stores have been struggling with competition online and other ways of people purchasing. That has really affected Villages. So, Ten Thousand Villages has taken the tough decision along with MCC to say that there are some stores that simply cannot continue to operate."
The store closings are taking place at locations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. No Manitoba outlets are affected. Cober Bauman says MCC is saddened about the loss of jobs at the outlets that are closing and is also concerned about the 20,000 fair trade artisans in 27 countries who market their products through Ten Thousand Villages.
"We're very much aware of the potential impact for these artisans being able to sell fewer products when we have fewer Ten Thousand Villages stores in Canada."
Cober Bauman says they are working hard to grow their online sales but adds those are so far not making up for the downturn at their brick-and-mortar stores.
"We really want to send a clear message that MCC is committed to finding a good way forward for Ten Thousand Villages. That's probably going to mean some diversified sales channels like online sales. So, we are encouraging people to keep thinking about Ten Thousand Villages in their purchasing and think about online sales, in addition, visiting brick-and-mortar stores."