The 10,000 things


Exotic objects from around the world are now closer then ever before.

Ten Thousand Villages opened its second pop-up store at the location of the old Whitey’s, 112 E. Washington St.. The store will remain open through December.

The store sells everything from home décor to personal accessories, jewelry, scarves, soaps, coffee, and chocolate. Products originate in more than 30 countries, and the shop works with more than 130 artisan groups.

Nate Kaeding, the retail development director for the Iowa City Downtown District, said pop-up stores are owned by retailers who wnat to test their business models by using a temporary space for a short amount of time.

Alice Greenwood, the manager of the store, said Ten Thousand Villages is committed to fair trade, a movement aiming for better to improve trading conditions in foreign countries and make them more sustainable.

“Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit, fair-trade retail organization that works with artisans in developing countries and pays them fair prices for the works they do,” she said.

Greenwood said the store is completely operated by volunteers.

Mark Ginsberg, the president-elect of Iowa City Downtown District, said Ten Thousand Villages was chosen to occupy the vacant space because of the store’s concept focusing on emerging markets by bringing in products from third world countries to be sold in the United States.

“It may be that somebody who shops at the store goes to visit these villages directly and extends the breadth and depth of the products being bought in, even beyond what Ten Thousand Villages could do,” he said.

Kaeding said the Downtown District expects more pop-up stores because they add new energy and an element of surprise to downtown shopping.

“It’s a great value add for downtown Iowa City, especially for the holiday season, as it gives another gift buying opportunity for people,” he said. “Particularly, something like Ten Thousand Villages that is really socially conscious. Not only will your gifts be a good product, but it also helps people from other developing countries, and that just adds to the overall vibrancy.”

Kaeding said pop-up stores previously in downtown have done well, despite the lack of open spaces.

Ten Thousand Villages reported a $19 million in revenue last year. This year, the Iowa City group is hoping to raise $110,000 for a permanent home in Iowa City.

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