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Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store #1 in U.S. in 2014 sales

Kmbris Bond, who has promoted the Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store in Seattle since 2009, returned in October to her hometown, Wenatchee, to be with family.

kmbris bond

Kmbris Bond a Phoenician glass vase handmade in Hebron. Photo courtesy of Kmbris Bond

“Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) has been my life.  It’s about making mission happen globally and regionally,” said Kmbris, who was a store volunteer, joined the board and came on staff at a time many Northwest stores were closing.

The Seattle store sells artisan-crafted home décor, personal accessories and gift items from more than 130 artisan groups in 38 countries.  It is one of 390 U.S. TTV retail outlets.

For 60 years, Heifer has developed long-term buying relationships with artisans so they receive a fair price. 

Ten Thousand Villages began after Edna Ruth Byler, wife of a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) leader, visited Puerto Rico.  Moved by the women artisans’ poverty, she bought needlework and sold it to friends in Pennsylvania.  In 1952, the Overseas Needlepoint and Crafts Project started.  It became a program of the MCC in 1962.  It was named SELFHELP Crafts in 1968.  In 1989, it helped start the International Fair Trade Association, and in 1996, became Ten Thousand Villages, opening stores around the country.  In 2000, it incorporated as a nonprofit.  It began online sales in 2006 and had $20 million in overall sales.  In 2012, it became a partner of MCC.

The Seattle TTV store began in the 1970s and incorporated in the 1980s and opened in 1991 at Kirkland as a mission of Seattle Mennonite Church.  It moved in 1994 to downtown Seattle near Pike Place Market, then in 2000 moved to 6417 Roosevelt Way NE.

Recent changes helped it turn around, she said. 

It is open from noon to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, and noon to 7 p.m., Sundays.

Kmbris, who moved to Seattle in 2009, applied business skills from nine years as an insurance broker in Eugene, Ore.  She had never owned a business, run a store, headed a nonprofit, recruited volunteers or led a board.

Rich Trifeletti, a retail management professional, came out of retirement to be store manager, helping Kmbris make the store viable.  The store does off-site sales, a book club, community service events, fund raisers and educational events.. 

Online sales are at

When Rick and Kmbris left the store in August, it was top in the country in increased sales for the year.

Kmbris said it’s important that both customers and retail volunteers come from and visit many countries, so they have relationships and connections around the world.

“Many volunteers have traveled on learning tours to visit artisans in their settings to see how the relationships increase their incomes,” she said.

“It’s quite a contrast what Ten Thousand Villages does in fair trade compared with what big box stores do,” she said. 

“When big box stores come to an area, they may use child labor, have unsafe working conditions and be inconsistent with suppliers as they look for the cheapest route, rather than using fair trade principles,” Kmbris said.  “Ten Thousand Villages promises long-term relationships with artisans.”

At national workshops for three years at TTV headquarters in Akron, Pa., Kmbris met artisans and heard their stories. 

Several UCC churches have had off-site sales, and Kmbris has brought TTV crafts to PNC Annual Meetings.

“Education is a big piece,” she said, noting that volunteers visit schools and churches to speak and to take products for off-site sales.

Kmbris often visited churches to do infomercials during mission moments.

“Ten Thousand Villages’ Seattle store draws ecumenical supporters and volunteers from 30 churches and groups.

UCC churches that do off-site sales are Keystone, Richmond Beach, University Congregational, Plymouth and Wayside.

UCC volunteers include Eliza Penik of Keystone, a new board member; Vicki Farmer of University Congregational UCC is on the board, and Don Bolter, former office administrator at University Congregational UCC.

Kmbris is also known in the PNC for her work as a certified trainer in Our Whole Lives curriculum for middle school, high school, college, young adults and adults.  In addition, she was chair of a recent Northwest Regional Women’s Retreat in Warm Springs and chair of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Business Group.

Through studies at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Kmbris earned a degree in speech communication with a minor in music ministry at Northwest Christian College in 1995.

While her family has been involved in Sunnyslope Brethren-UCC church, during 20 years of marriage, she was Presbyterian and Free Methodist, and then attended First Congregational UCC in Eugene.

In Seattle, she has been involved with University Congregational, the Pacific Northwest Conference, the Festival of Preaching and the Roosevelt Business Association.

“I came from the business side and moved into community involvement,” Kmbris said.  “My dream is to create community.

“I’m UCC because of the social justice piece in serving God.  Each of us makes a difference every day around the world, making mission happen, clothing and feeding people, and educating people on our wealth and privilege,” Kmbris said.  “We help people realize our potential to serve and help humanity.”

She expects the next chapter of her life to have some global element, even as she returns to her family’s organic farm and agricultural roots.

For information, call 541-953-4442 or email



Copyright © November-December 2015 Pacific Northwest Conference UCC News


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