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An international ‘fair-trade pioneer’ finds a home in Centre County

A Ten Thousand Villages store has opened on South Atherton Street.
A Ten Thousand Villages store has opened on South Atherton Street. adrey@centredaily.com

The much anticipated Ten Thousand Villages store is officially open in State College after years of planning and fundraising.

Joel Weidner, board chair of the Ten Thousand Villages of Central Pa, and other members have worked on finding a home for their store for the past two years.

The international Ten Thousand Villages, which describes itself as a fair-trade pioneer, has a local outlet located at 1341 S. Atherton St. that opened on Sept. 12 and will hold its official “welcome week” on Oct. 19-26.

The store features an array of international products that are handcrafted for the nonprofit organization by more than 20,000 makers in around 30 countries worldwide. According to its website, Ten Thousand Villages makes it possible for these makers to earn a sustainable income and break the cycle of poverty in developing countries.

In the fall of 2016, a small group started to brainstorm the idea of opening a store in State College. They held a community meeting in September and had a team from Ten Thousand Villages come and look at the area. After receiving approval to open the store, plans began to fall into place.

For the next two years, the group held fundraisers and events to help promote the organization and raise enough money to secure their South Atherton location. They sold the handcrafted treasures at events like Pop Up Ave. and at the University Mennonite Church on Norma Street.

The official board of directors was formed in Feb. 2017. The group was able to raise $75,000 through sales and donations, and at the end of 2017 they became eligible for a $50,000 grant, which allowed them to begin looking for a permanent location in the spring.

Ten Thousand Villages reviewed the location and gave them approval, and the group was able to sign the lease to secure the building on July 1. They renovated the inside and organized the store with the help of volunteers.

During their welcome week, visitors can expect music, refreshments, special offers, children’s activities, basket giveaways and much more. The majority of the events will be held on Oct. 19-21, including an official ribbon cutting by Mayor Donald Hahn.

For more information on the State College location, head to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/TenThousandVillagesStateCollege/events/?ref=page_internal.

The organization is also looking for more board members and volunteers. Send an email to volunteers.statecollege@tenthousandvillages.com or call the store at (814)-954-5043 for more information.

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