Debbi Daniel-Wayman first started shopping at the Ten Thousand Villages Glen Ellyn store 25 years ago. She registered for her wedding at the store, which at the time was known for its baskets, coffee and chocolates.
More important than what the store sold, was what it offered to help others earn an honest living and that is what made Daniel-Wayman a supporter first, a volunteer second and the store’s assistant manager today.
Ten Thousand Villages is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in downtown Glen Ellyn and will hold a special event Saturday to celebrate. And, the anniversary celebration will continue over the next year, Daniel-Wayman said.
What first attracted her to the store are ideals it continues to follow: fair trade, sustainable commerce, providing a living wage for artisans, long-term business relationships with artisans and assisting artisans with creating in-demand products.
“It provides an alternative economic model, so artisans can really rely on a basic wage to support themselves,” she said.
Through fair trade, the artisans are able to meet their basic needs, such as buying nutritious food, reliable housing and paying for schooling for children, Daniel-Wayman said.
Over the years, the store has expanded its offering to include jewelry, bags, scarves and a variety of home décor items.
An example of artisans taking something available, recycling and repurposing it are items, which come from Cambodia, she said. The artisans take discarded bomb casings and repurpose them into symbols of peace, such as dove tealights or tree of life necklace.
The items in the store represent nearly 40 different countries and hundreds of artisans. For many of the items, cards are available that share the stories of the products and the artisans.
Ten Thousand Villages draws a large number of local shoppers from Glen Ellyn and Wheaton, Daniel-Wayman said. But, the store is also a destination shop for people who seek it out and are willing to travel a bit to Glen Ellyn.
Daniel-Hayman began volunteering at the store a few years ago and then an employee retired, leaving an open position, she likes working at the store and feeling she is helping make a difference around the world from Glen Ellyn.
“We are giving people a hand up, not a hand out,” she said.
The store has three part-time employees, so it relies heavily on its volunteers, Daniel-Hayman said. The store is always looking for volunteers to give back.
Nancy Kurth, a retired teacher, volunteers at the store.
“I like giving back, helping people, supporting others around the world and to see first hand the impact it can have,” Kurth said.
Ten Thousand Villages Glen Ellyn's 25th Anniversary Celebration will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store will have silver 25 percent off all day, special treats and a free gift with purchase. The store is located at 499C Pennsylvania Ave. The store’s hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Learn more on the website. Volunteer applications can be found online.